The Women of Great Heron Lake
Two strong women, generations apart, living parallel lives.
When Marla Madison’s husband dies, she realizes her life has become very small. Her daughter is grown and Marla has spent the past two decades focused on his friends, his interests, and his home. Feeling lost, she throws herself into fixing up the one-hundred and fifty-year-old family lakeside manor. She soon discovers an old journal in a secret drawer and is instantly intrigued. The handwritten book tells the tale of another Mrs. Madison from over a century ago, the first woman to live in the lake manor. As Marla reads the journal, she discovers that her life parallels that of the woman who wrote those words decades ago and Marla finds inspiration from her strength.
1875 - Alaina Carlton was content to become a spinster until her beloved father introduced her to Nathaniel Madison, one of the most prosperous men in St. Paul, Minnesota. Even though she values her independence, Alaina is intrigued by this man who pursues her. When they marry, she believes she’s found a man who will treat her as an equal, but soon realizes that isn’t entirely true. From their mansion on the illustrious Summit Avenue to their manor at Great Heron Lake, where the rich and powerful play, her life is no longer her own. But fifteen years and two children later when Nathaniel grows ill, she takes her rightful place where women weren’t allowed in order to secure her children’s inheritance and her future.
An inspiring family saga of two determined woman who found meaning in their lives by following their passions and not allowing society, or propriety, to hold them back.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10
Plot: While the frame of finding and reading a journal from another era is hardly novel, the author executes the concept well, allowing the lives of both protagonists to linger in memory.
Prose/Style: The prose is smooth and clear as chapters alternate between two women's unique stories. One stylistic point of confusion concerns the transitions between first and third person perspectives, though readers will ultimately adjust to this narrative structure.
Originality: Aside from the familiar device of a journal, the text here is largely original. Comparing two women of different centuries is quite fascinating, and the parallels to her own lived experience that Marla finds in Alaina's journal are intriguing.
Character Development: Both the contemporary and historic women are quite real and complex. The author compassionately portrays the women’s individual struggles and efforts to stand strong in the face of male domination in a patriarchal society.
Date Submitted: April 02, 2020