I tried a few different times to summarize the plot on my own, but alas nothing I’m writing is right. So I will resort to the back of the book description:
Winter, 1919. Amanda Starkey spends her days nursing soldiers wounded in the Great War. Finding herself suddenly overwhelmed, she flees Milwaukee and retreats to her family’s farm on Nagawaukee Lake, seeking comfort with her younger sister, Mathilda, and three-year-old niece, Ruth. But very soon, Amanda comes to see that her old home is no refuge – she has carried her troubles with her. On one terrible night almost a year later, Amanda loses nearly everything that is dearest to her when her sister mysteriously disappears and is later found drowned beneath the ice that covers the lake. When Mathilda’s husband comes home from the war, wounded and troubled himself, he finds that Amanda has taken charge of Ruth and the farm, assuming her responsibility with a frightening intensity. Wry and guarded, Amanda tells the story of her family in careful doses, as anxious to hide from herself as from us the secrets of her own past and of that night.
Really strong character development – it’s one of those books where you think about them when you’re not reading, wondering what’s happening to them. You might not like every one of the characters, but you really get the whole story with each of them. The plot is a bit melodramatic (it is, after all an Oprah book) but I bought into it. For some reason I always have an easier time buying into melodrama when the story takes place in “olden times”. Like everyone was all running around getting drowned and creating scandals in the 1910s, right?
Anyways, there are plenty of plot twists to keep your attention, plus they don’t tell you the whole effing story until like the very last page, so you really are compelled to keep reading. Considering how lethargic my reading habits have been of late, the fact that I tore through this book in 3 days should tell you that I liked it.