When I wrote my first book it was pretty much thrown out there without much of a care. But it is clear that Francis Guenette has gone to great lengths to present an excellently-crafted first novel. Using her counselling psychology skills she weaves a tale of a small community and its disparate characters and the complex relationships and tensions that ebb and flow between them. Using an idyllic lake setting the author uses her love of nature and colours as the backdrop to her story.
We have Izzy, the attractive widow in a beautifully built lakeside cabin; the hardworking same-sex couple of Bethany and Beulah; Liam the loner who manages the small estate; Justin, a young lad on the programme at the nearby counselling centre. All of them have a back story and the author examines each in turn to see what has brought them to the lake.
Into the mix are introduced newcomers who, unwittingly, re-arrange the dynamics of the small community. Dan, a priest on retreat struggling with the demands of his calling; Roland whose counselling methods clash with Izzy’s; Lisa-Marie, a vulnerable 16-year old.
And, seemingly always in the nearby shadows, Izzy’s charismatic, dead husband Caleb whose influence is still prevalent.
The author examines conflicts, undercurrents, sexual tensions. All is not what it might seem on the surface to the weekend visitor. A Peyton Place for our times.
With its emphasis on inter-relationships this is a story aimed primarily at the female market. It is a gentle though intriguing read and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Guenette will have many readers hoping for a second offering soon, but she is a writer who, I suspect, won’t be rushed until she is sure the product is good and ready.