In the first of the Lake Manawa Summers trilogy, Lorna Seilstad introduces us to the delights of Lake Manawa - a large Iowan lake near Council Bluffs where sailboats skimmed across the waves, young and old enjoyed the delights of the water slide and lake, where the wealthy would camp all summer on the shore, and where other, darker snares lay hidden for the susceptible. Marguerite's family chooses to spend the summer there in large tents with all the comforts of home, and there Marguerite discovers the love of her life - sailing. Except, of course, women are not supposed to sail, but boys can, so Marguerite convinces her younger brother to take lessons with Marguerite supervising - and soaking up everything he is taught. The handsome instructor's main stipulation is that she be able swim, which she can . . . for a couple seconds, if she can bounce off the bottom. Spending more and more time with Trip, Marguerite knows she has to send her rich and boring suitor Roger packing, but she hates to cause a scene. When her little white lies come to light and family problems suddenly appear, what will she do?
It's fun when an author chooses a little-known location or time period for their setting. Lake Manawa, Iowa, is certainly not someplace I had heard of, let alone known it was such a popular entertainment area at the turn of the century. Back when there was a significantly greater divide in classes, the lake became a place where rich and poor alike mingled, where fantastic daily events drew large crowds to its shores.
Any lie - big, little, whatever - can hurt someone. And they don't just hurt other people - they have repercussions on the liar too. Marguerite's little white lies did not seem all that bad; they were largely to avoid causing a scene. However, if she had told Roger the truth at the beginning of their courtship - that she had no desire to marry him at all - rather than always putting it off and waiting for her father to rescue her, how much strife could the whole family have avoided? This is not to say everything is her fault, since the blame can be spread around generously, but could the simple action of telling the truth have prevented much of their hardship? And her relationship with Trip takes several blows when he catches her evading the truth.
As much as I like Trip, he is rather judgmental. All have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God. Marguerite is right up there with everyone else, relying on God's mercy for the foolish things she does. But Trip needs mercy too, especially for his attitude, which is far from Godly at times. It is hard to forgive that which causes enormous pain, but it must be done lest one wallow in bitterness forever.
This is a well-rounded book - a bit of danger, a bit of fancy, plenty of humor, and sufficient gravity; a spunky heroine, a dashing hero, villainous knave, and a merciful God. Cute and funny with a good message and appealing characters!