Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Publisher:  William Morrow
Published:   April 8, 2014
ISBN:  978-0062283146
Genre:   Women’s Fiction
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher  Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Doing what she thinks will be best for her young son Wyatt and herself, Allie Beckett has returned to her childhood home at Butternut Lake. For what has felt like too long, yet not long enough after her husband’s death she needs to return to herself.  Her friends meant well, kindly telling her she was young, she can love again, marry again and have more children.  But for all their well meaning words, they haven’t helped her.  Who can truly put a time limit on grief?  So she has returned to that place in her life where she felt right.  Where she felt complete—Butternut Lake.

When she arrives at the family cabin much is as she remembered.  But there is the part that has aged, fallen away and leaves her wondering if she’s done the right thing, especially for her young son.  Hoping for the best the morning after she arrives she heads into town and finds little has changed.  Oh, there are a few new things and people she knew have grown up or older, but the core of the town is everything she has remembered.  Well almost.

Walker Ford is new to town, or at least to Allie.  Walker and his brother, Reid have a lucrative business buying and restoring boat yards.  Something about Butternut Lake spoke to Walker, so much so he built a cabin on the lake and while Reid wants him to return to the city, day after day he has another reason to stay.  When he meets Allie he has yet another reason.

Can a simple attraction grow into something more?  Or will the ghosts of our past continue to dwell in our future?

I’m not a fan of women’s fiction because for the most part they are depressing to me.  There’s just too much struggle to find even the smallest grain of happiness.  I read to escape to another time and place and contemporary fiction/women’s fiction is just too reality based for me.  I’m less of a fan of books with “cute” children.  They have their place but far too often them remind me of the unruly brats running around Costco while their parents look on and smile as if their climbing on the grocery shelves is the cutest trick ever.

But I also believe in supporting local authors even if it’s only to read their books and that is why I picked up Mary McNear’s UP AT BUTTERNUT LAKE.  I may have picked it up because she is a local author, but I became a fan in her opening pages and by the end of the book she moved to one of my top reads.  What an incredible story! 

The characters are fully developed.  Each is unique with his or her own story to tell.  They could be your neighbour or even yourself.  They are complex and multi-dimensional with stories you can relate to on a number of levels.

Ms. McNear creates a town at Butternut Lake that anyone would want to spend time in.  While the town itself could be anywhere, it is the people who live there who make it a safe haven. 

The story takes you down real life paths but not in a sad or overwhelming way.  While there are a number of life experiences that come up in the story, the one that really spoke to me was the question of when do you know you are ready to move on from a loss—from the death of a loved one?  And even more important—how do you do it.  Allie does something I think we’d all like to do at one time or other when faced with an impossible situation—by going to Butternut Lake she ran from what was no longer comfortable, leaving what was in essence one known for an unknown, yet familiar place.  At Butternut Lake she didn’t have to live her life on someone else’s time clock but could look at her life and make her decisions when it was right for her.  I got teary when I read the scene where she is finally able to say goodbye to her deceased husband and truly lay him to rest.  It is the rare book that can bring me to tears and in this case it felt all the more personal because of what a wonderful story teller Ms. McNear is.

This is one book I would recommend to anyone, no matter what their favourite genre.  It is a well told story that will stay with you long after the last word is read.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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