Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Alice's Review: Up at Butternut Lake


Author: Mary McNear
Series: Yes, The Butternut Lake Trilogy
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 384
Obtained: Publisher 
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4
Bottom Line:  Heartwarming and wonderful
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary:  It's summer, and after ten years away, Allie Beckett has returned to her family's cabin beside tranquil Butternut Lake, where as a teenager she spent so many carefree days. She's promised her five-year-old son, Wyatt, they will be happy there. She's promised herself this is the place to begin again after her husband's death in Afghanistan. The cabin holds so many wonderful memories, but from the moment she crosses its threshold Allie is seized with doubts. Has she done the right thing uprooting her little boy from the only home he's ever known?  Allie and her son are embraced by the townsfolk, and her reunions with old acquaintances:  her friend Jax, now a young mother of three with one more on the way, and Caroline, the owner of the local coffee shop are joyous ones. And then there are newcomers like Walker Ford, who mostly keeps to himself until he takes a shine to Wyatt . . . and to Allie.  Everyone knows that moving forward is never easy, and as the long, lazy days of summer take hold, Allie must learn to unlock the hidden longings of her heart, and to accept that in order to face the future she must also confront and understand what has come before.

Review:  Up at Butternut Lake is a wonderful novel about a three women who need to make some difficult choices to search out happiness in their lives. Allie is a recently widowed mother of a precocious little boy. She is ready to start over in a place that once brought her much happiness. Jax is Allie’s childhood friend. She has a terrible secret that could tear her family apart. Caroline is the owner of the local coffee shop. She’s the mother hen of the group trying her best to heal her lonely heart. The tales of these women combine to make a wonderful, heartfelt novel that will move you to tears, make you laugh and wish for your very own cabin at Butternut Lake.

I really enjoyed this novel. I respected Allie and the difficult decisions she made regarding her life after the death of her husband. I truly believe this is one of the most realist fiction accounts of coping with a spouse’s death. Ms. McNear was spot on. Granted, not everyone has an incredible sexy neighbor for a much needed distraction. The realism doesn’t come from that. The realism is from Allie’s desire to put the needs of her son before her own. Sadly many women feel the need to be rescued, especially after something as traumatic as the death of a husband. Not Allie though, she did the absolute best she could to not only save herself but her son Wyatt as well. Kudos to Ms. McNear for writing such a strong, determined woman.

As much as I liked Allie, I was disappointed in Jax. Jax is the example of how a lie can take on a life of it’s own and grow so big it kills everything in it’s path. There were moments when I felt compassion for Jax but overall, I found her to be sad and a little pathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I was not happy with what happened to her. But her grief could have been avoided simply by telling the truth.

Caroline was in a league of her own. She was such a kind woman. She reminded me so much of my mom’s cousin Lena. She’s the kind of woman you can go to for advice, she will always keep your secrets, and is always there when you need her. I spent the novel hoping for her happy ending.

Up at Butternut Lake transports you to a place you hope exists. It’s a place where neighbors help each other out and everyone knows everyone else. I just love places like that. Then again, I am a small town girl at heart. I’m very happy this is the first in a series because I am not ready to let these women go.

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