Title: Ladies of the Lake
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Major Themes: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, Boarding School, Friendship, Connecticut, World War I
Synopsis: When a close friendship between four young women is torn apart by war and misunderstanding, is there any way to rebuild what once was?
Whenever I see a book review that sounds like it has a minimal amount of romance, and is not a murder mystery, I will take a second look at it. That is what appealed to me about Ladies of the Lake. It sounded like exactly the kind of look I enjoy reading. Also, I remembered reading a book a number of years ago by Cathy Gohlke and really enjoying it. I was not disappointed!
Adelaide Rose MacNeill had always lived on Prince Edward Island. When her parents both died suddenly, though, she found herself packed off to Lakeside Ladies’ Academy in Connecticut. She was surprised to find kindred spirits there—three girls her own age. They called themselves the Ladies of the Lake and vowed to remain friends forever. However, that was before the war. The war with Germany drove wedges between them because of the German family Addie and Dorothy were close friends with. And then, a terrible explosion in the harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia destroyed the sisterhood forever.
Fast forward 17 years. Dorothy made a phone call from the Academy to Rosaline Murray to urge her to come to her daughter Bernadette’s graduation. That ripped open Rosaline’s memory, forcing her to remember the sisterhood…the man she once loved…betrayal by friends…and the terrible explosion that changed her life and identity forever. Was there any way to return to what once was? Did she even want to? You’ll have to read this split-time novel, which flips back and forth between 1910-1917 and 1935, and between two characters, to find out!
What a story! Ladies of the Lake was one of those books that dragged me in and held me firmly. I found myself reading for several minutes longer than I should have each time I picked it up. First, I wanted to find out how Rosaline had been maimed and how she fit into the story at the beginning of the book. Then, I had to find out if the foursome ever got together again—I really couldn’t predict that for sure. And then, the crowning delight of the book: Cathy Gohlke surprised her main character with a twist, near the end of the book, that caught me totally by surprise! I love when an author can do that. I highly recommend this book to any woman. It is a great story of women’s friendships. I really liked how low-key the romance was in it. There was some there, and it was an important part of the story, but it was really a minor feature. I am definitely going to be watching for more books by this author!
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: There were three kisses mentioned, and the word “bloody” once. One or two scenes (I couldn’t find chapter headings) described the carnage after a huge explosion.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults