cover image Stars over Clear Lake

Stars over Clear Lake

Loretta Ellsworth. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-09703-3

Ellsworth alternates between 2007 and the 1940s, as one Iowa woman’s journey into the past helps her reconcile her present. Lorraine Kindred laments her difficult relationship with her adult daughter, Daisy, as she copes with missing her recently deceased husband, Sid. Lorraine recalls when she once went to the Surf Ballroom before the original burned down. And she evades the questions her son-in-law Harry asks her about the fire and what caused it. Ellsworth gives the reader a view of the original Surf Ballroom, and the time when Lorraine’s father hired German POWs from a nearby POW camp to help with their Iowa farm. Lorraine eventually falls in love with one of those men, Jens. Lorraine’s most difficult choice was between Scotty, the man she grew up with and her mother’s choice for her, and Jens, the love of her life. Ellsworth’s depiction of 1940s life in a rural Iowa town, complicated by the tragedies of World War II, vividly brings this novel to life. Yet it is the focus on love, loss, and life choices that will resonate most with the reader. (May)