Tuesday, January 3, 2017
BOOK REVIEW: The Lady of the Lake by Josi S. Kilpack
ABOUT THE BOOK
Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul.
Though Mina shares Walter’s love of literature and passionate temperament, it’s hard for her to know if she truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose?
But as every poet knows, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and on a windy morning in the lake country, Walter meets Charlotte.
At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home.
Passion and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return?
Josi Kilpack does such a great job writing historical romances. Her Sadie Miller culinary mysteries are great as well, but this historical romance based on the life of Sir Walter Scott comes together so beautifully. The prologue, told from Walter's point of view, introduces the reader to his first reaction to the young Williamina Belshes, later Stuart. He is smitten from the very first time he lays eyes on her. Walter is determined to win Mina for his wife, but of course has to wait for her to reach the appropriate age as well as develop a strong enough income to buy a house. During those intervening years, Walter and Mina write to each other, expressing their feelings as well as their interests. But when they meet up again, Mina isn't as sure as Walter of the future of their relationship. Especially after her father pressures her to marry someone who can boost the family's prospects (his prospects really). Mina isn't sure she really knows what he wants. And when Walter meets and befriends Charlotte, a young Frenchwoman who as just become independent from her British Guardian, his feelings also become conflicted.
I think one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book is the realistic nature of the relationships, how they develop and fluctuate as the characters struggle to understand what they are feeling and what they really want. I also couldn't help falling in love with the Scotland that Kilpack (and Scott himself) portrays so clearly. While there is romance here, there is also the realities of messy relationships and the challenges that come when fantasies turn out not to work in reality. Kilpack has created a wonder novel exploring the nature and difficulties of love. The notes at the end make it clear what parts of the story are known or inferred to be true, and where the author took some literary license in order to create a story that flowed.