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Lake News Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

There are a significant number of related themes running through this novel—issues of trust, integrity, communication, a quest for justice, the value of community—virtually all of which are more or less broadly hinted at in the first few pages describing idyllic Lake Henry.

Two loons have nested and produced offspring in the sheltered cove of an island on the lake, and this wildlife family serves to foreshadow and enlighten by contrast the human story to follow. They and the reformed newspaperman hero have, over the summer months, gradually established a wary relationship. The outsider has been made welcome only so long as he "kept his distance and respected their space." These birds keep to themselves and, at the slightest sign of predatory behavior, will take flight or fight to protect their own. Unlike man, however, the loon is never willfully aggressive: it "harmed others only when its own existence was threatened." The birds' parental instincts highlight the importance of family in this novel, and the fact that they are constantly on the lookout for lurking danger foreshadows the media feeding frenzy to come.

Finding a way to trust and be trusted is an important theme. John Kipling has learned the hard way about over intrusive behavior and the potential ruinous costs of exploiting others for one's own ends. He now approaches his beloved loons differently, "waiting for trust to build so he could paddle closer." Having herself been burned and betrayed, Lily Blake must overcome her suspicion, just as John must here again slowly and cautiously prove himself trustworthy to her. In many of their relationships with others, as well, both protagonists must overcome fear of rejection in order to reach out and build essential bridges.

Paradoxically, Kipling is planning to write his own take on Lily even as he finds himself chivalrously protecting her from other reporters trying to do the same. The planned book's subject matter—how the public's right to know must be balanced with an individual's right to privacy—"went to the heart of what worried, angered, jaded so very many people." Of course, in order to succeed with his project, he needs Lily's cooperation, and "if she worked with him, it would be compromising what little privacy she had left." Despite her initial misgivings, the besieged young woman knows that she needs a strong and forceful ally, and thus lets him act as her "link to the outside world." John himself is perceptive enough to see the irony of this situation: "Some would say he was exploiting her. He preferred to think he was simply studying her, but he found either case vaguely unsettling."

The quest for justice (Lily needs her name back and John needs to right a wrong or two himself) and the relationship developing between the two lovers are merged from the beginning. As they work together to prove her innocence, there is a gradual erasure of emotional barriers between them. They rapidly develop an exclusive relationship, with the result that John is wracked by doubt about his goals and motives. He keeps uncovering more details to add to the story: "But if he included it in a...

(The entire section is 795 words.)