Monday, February 3, 2014
Waters of Star Lake by Sara Rath
The Waters of Star Lake by Sara Rath was our book club's pick for January. A contemporary, up north story of a 60 year old woman who returns to the much loved family cabin for the first time after her husband's death. What was intended to be a quiet summer of solitude and healing takes a different turn the first night when her dog is attacked by wolves. A frantic drive to a nearby bar for directions to the nearest vet leaves Natalie somewhat beholding to Bud, a true up north woods hunter. His annual road kill feast may be more than Natalie can handle. Concerned that the wolves may return, Natalie reaches out to wildlife authority Will Davis. His desire to protect the wolves DOES NOT match the views of many locals, and Natalie finds herself in the middle. With barely time to "take a refreshing dip in the lake" after surviving the wolf attack, Natalie finds that she and her dog are going to be hosts to granddaughter Minnow, a rebellious teen with whom Natalie has no relationship. Soon neighbor Ginger from the nearby lodge and bar proposes that they search for the legendary Dillinger valise of money left behind at Little Bohemia. Not the summer of solitude Natalie envisioned, but just the summer she needed.
Despite being a short 199 pages, The Waters of Star Lake gave us much to discuss. Many of us have our own up north stories and we like sharing them. Stories of gangsters and the infamous shootout between Dillinger and the FBI at the Little Bohemia lodge figure heavily in the book. Part of the movie PUBLIC ENEMY was filmed at Little Bohemia. That strikes a strong connection with me since hubby and I visited there one snowy evening in April (yes, April) right after the movie had been filmed. We were the only customers and got to sit at the table right in front of the gigantic fireplace by the bar -- where Dillinger and his men were drinking when the Feds arrived. Of course, we all had opinions about the dark, gloomy, foul-mouthed Minnow and her initiation into the up north life of outhouses, cold water baths, and loon calls in the middle of the night! The Waters of Star Lake is the second book Rath has written about her imaginary lake town loosely modeled after the real Star Lake and Mercer. Several of us have read both books, and which is the better seems to be a tie vote at this point. My vote is strongly in favor of this, the second book. In fact, I wished that Rath had expanded the story a little and written a longer tale. Perhaps, Minnow and grandma Natalie will return in another volume. Hopefully they will bring along Ginger for outrageous humor.