Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
The Women of Great Heron Lake by Deanna Lynn Sletten connects two women who married into the same Madison family but exited decades apart from each other. When, after over a year of fighting pancreatic cancer, Nathan passed away, his wife, Marla Madison, felt free. After marrying Nathan, she had quit her job and devoted her life to caring for her daughter, Reese, and her husband. Now that Reese was an adult and her husband had passed away, suddenly she did not know what to do with the time available to her. Outside her family, she hadn't formed any real connection with people. With nothing else to do, she threw herself into renovating her mansion. It was during one of these renovation times that she found the journal of the first Mrs. Madison, Alaina. As she delved deeper into the journal, she shivered at the eerie similarities between her and Alaina.
The Women of Great Heron Lake by Deanna Lynn Sletten reflects on the lives of women -- now and then (the year 1875). Although born decades apart, both Marla and Alaina went through drastic changes after marrying wealthy men. Alaina was happy taking care of her father's business and living the life of a spinster, but when she met Nathaniel, she could not resist his charms. Gradually, he manipulated her into adjusting her life goals to accommodate his dreams. Eventually, Alaina lost the one thing she craved the most: her freedom. Similarly, Marla, too, had lost track of her goals after marrying Nathan. When he died, she struggled with finding her purpose in life. The plot will resonate with many women who alter their personalities and passions to fulfill their expected duties as a wife and mother.
This is a story of hope and second chances. Deanna Lynn Sletten makes a smooth transition between the present (Marla's story) and the past (Alaina). The mindset and mannerisms remain authentic in both the timelines. This book is heaven for architecture enthusiasts. The descriptions of the houses and mansions are so crisp that they transport you inside these spacious structures. Emotions run high as Deanna Lynn Sletten narrates the sacrifices that Alaina made in the name of love and marriage. Patriarchal society's flawed and biased rules are laid bare in the form of a gripping plot. Women supporting women is the backbone of the story as well. I recommend The Women of Great Heron Lake by Deanna Lynn Sletten to readers who enjoy a slow-paced story that highlights a woman's search for her identity.