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Historical Women's Fiction
Publish Date: September 10, 2019
Two strong women, generations apart, living parallel lives.
When Marla Madison’s husband of twenty-two years dies, she finds her life has become very small. Her daughter is grown and she’s spent the past two decades around his friends, his interests, and his home. Feeling lost, she throws herself into fixing up the one-hundred and fifty-year-old family manor on the lake. While remodeling, she discovers an old journal in a secret drawer and is instantly intrigued. The handwritten book describes the life of another Mrs. Madison from over a century ago, the first woman to live in Marla’s home. As she reads the journal with the book club women she’s recently befriended, Marla finds 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 introduces her to Nathaniel Madison, one of the most prosperous men in their town of St. Paul, Minnesota. Even though she loves her independence and enjoys working on her father’s finances for his factory, she 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.
Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review:
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.
Critic's Review from The Booklife Prize - "Comparing two women of different centuries is quite fascinating, and the parallels to her own life experience that Marla finds in Alaina's journal are intriguing. 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."
THE WOMEN OF GREAT HERON LAKE is a Silver Winner of the Readers' Favorite 2020 Book Award Contest.