The Lake is George Moore's most poetic and perfectly crafted novel. It tells of a priest's loss not of faith, but of commitment to the principles fostered in him during his training and his discovery of a more fulfilling religion that celebrates instinct as man's true mode of communion with his soul.
Father Gogarty's parish is in a remote district of Mayo beside Lough Carra and his new philosophy is worked out during his long walks and rides round the lake where he learns how the changing quality of his perceptions of the landscape about him can reveal the fluctuating moods of that 'underlife' of his psyche that shapes his being.
The Lake is a novel about self-discovery through guilt (Gogarty fears he has brought about the death of a parishioner through vigorously denouncing her way of life from the altar) and atonement in renouncing a creed which demands that a man continually repress his capacity for joy.
But it is also a novel about the satisfactions of living close to nature in Ireland; the atmosphere of the Mayo countryside, the play of light on mountain, wood and lake, the rich historical associations in every church, castle or abbey ruin and farmstead are evoked with a rare skill, subtly illuminating the relationship that Moore takes as his theme between place and the Irish personality.