Published by MIRA Books ISBN 9780778317951
Hardcover, $24.95, 380 pages
One of the reasons I was drawn to Susan Wiggs' Starlight on Willow Lake is that is set near the place where my husband grew up, in Ulster County in upstate New York.
Faith McCallum is a single mom to two girls, Cara and Ruby. Faith's husband Dennis died six years ago and left behind a mountain of debt, mostly in medical bills. Faith does her best to make ends meet as an LPN caregiver to private clients, but they are about to be evicted.
Financier Mason Bellamy is looking to hire a caregiver for his mother, who became a quadriplegic after being trapped in an avalanche that killed her husband. Alice Bellamy moved from Manhattan to the family's country house in Avalon, and has gone through a succession of live-in caregivers.
Faith responds to Mason's online ad and sees this job as an answer to her prayers. Faith, Cara and Ruby move into the Bellamy's spacious lakefront home and Faith can't believe that her luck has changed.
Alice is angry that the accident has taken away much of what she loved. She was an athletic, adventurous woman and now she was confined to a wheelchair. It was the loss of independence and privacy that hurt her the most, something a self-reliant woman like Alice found difficult to face.
While Alice held most people at arms' length, she took a shine to Cara and Ruby. She liked that the girls spoke openly and honestly to her, and getting to know them gave her something else to focus on.
Although Mason lives in Manhattan, he moves to Avalon for the summer at Faith's request. She feels that Alice needs to have not only a staff to care for her, but she needs her son as well.
Faith has had a difficult life, losing her mom and husband to early chronic illnesses and she has devoted her life to her daughters. But Mason has awakened feelings in her that she thought were dormant. Although Mason is engaged to Regina, a woman he works with who is as stylish, wealthy and career-driven as he is, he feels drawn to Faith.
What I liked about Starlight on Willow Lake is that through Faith we see the plight of the working poor, a growing demographic in society. Faith works hard, but getting out from under crushing debt is nearly insurmountable.
Cara understands their situation, and so she puts off her dreams of going to college because she doesn't want her mother to worry about paying for college. There are probably many people out there who feel like that.
There are many well written scenes in the book, but I most enjoyed the scenes of Alice bonding with the girls. Alice is a tough cookie, but the girls see through her rough exterior and speak to her honestly, as only children can.
I also loved the little shout-out to Wegmans (although there is no Wegmans near Ulster County, because if there was I would be able to hear my sister-in-law squealing with joy all the way here in NYC). I'm guessing that Susan Wiggs may know the Rochester area a bit because she also mentions Rochester as being represented in a college night program.
The characters in Starlight on Willow Lake are well-drawn and the storyline is intriguing. This book is part of Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles, and since it is mentioned that there are many members of the extended Bellamy family, I'm guessing the other books feature them. I will be looking for the rest of the series.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Susan Wiggs' tour. The rest of her stops are here:
Review tour for STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE:
Monday, August 24th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Tuesday, August 25th: The Sassy Bookster
Wednesday, August 26th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, August 26th: Romancing the Book
Thursday, August 27th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, August 28th: The Bookish and The Romantic
Monday, August 31st: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, September 1st: Books and Spoons
Tuesday, September 1st: Written Love Reviews
Wednesday, September 2nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, September 3rd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, September 4th: Urban Girl Reader
Monday, September 7th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, September 8th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, September 9th: Mignon Mykel Reviews
Thursday, September 10th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, September 10th: Luxury Reading
Friday, September 11th: Not In Jersey
Monday, September 14th: Book Babe
Tuesday, September 15th: Booked on a Feeling
Wednesday, September 16th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, September 17th: Bibliotica
Friday, September 18th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers