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Stars Over Clear Lake: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2017
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"A timeless story of love and loss in the wartime American heartland." ―Linda Lael Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Stars Over Clear Lake is an absorbing love story full of nostalgia, heartbreak, and secrets long buried―whether to protect others or simply for survival. Highlighting the lesser-known history of POWs in America during World War II, Ellsworth's tale serves as a timely reminder of the humanity that connects us, regardless of borders or circumstance, to even those labeled 'the enemy.' A memorable, highly transporting novel."
―Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost and The Pieces We Keep
"A heartfelt, stirring novel of love, loss and redemption. Told in rich historical detail and with unflinching honesty, Stars Over Clear Lake sweeps the reader back and forth between the stark reality and the sacrifices brought on by war and the healing powers of hope, love and forgiveness." ―Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Missing Pieces
"A moving and life-affirming story that illuminates an often overlooked chapter in American history. Loretta Ellsworth takes the reader on an enthralling journey through the ups and downs of the human heart." ―Ann Howard Creel, author of The Magic of Ordinary Days and While You Were Mine
"Loretta Ellsworth has written a moving romance that, at the same time, illuminates a little-known aspect of World War II history―the presence of German prisoner of war camps in the American heartland. With warmth and candor, Ellsworth brings that period, and the people who lived through it, to life." ―Dana Sachs, author ofThe Secret of the Nightingale Palace and If You Lived Here
"In this wonderful book, we are given so much history, how World War II played out in the middle of the country, this musical era, the tale of the POW camps in Iowa. A very moving, musical, and magical love story." ―Mary Logue, author of the Claire Watkins mysteries
"Ellsworth’s depiction of 1940s life in a rural Iowa town, complicated by the tragedies of World War II, vividly brings this novel to life. Yet it is the focus on love, loss, and life choices that will resonate most with the reader." ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
LORETTA ELLSWORTH grew up in Mason City, IA. A former teacher and a graduate of Hamline University with a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children, she is the award-winning author of several young adult novels. She has four children and six grandchildren and lives in Lakeville, MN. Stars Over Clear Lake is her first novel for adults.
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Top Customer Reviews
A year after losing her husband, Lorraine Kindred’s memories of life during the 1940s are in the forefront of her mind following a night at the Surf Ballroom. Lorraine cannot stop thinking about how dramatically life with her parents on their Iowa farm changed after her brother Pete enlisted during World War II. After Pete leaves for the battlefield, her father hires German POWs from a nearby POW camp to help work their farm. As Lorraine gets to the know the men working with her father, her viewpoint of “the enemy” gradually shifts and her friendship with Jens eventually turns to love. However with anti-German sentiment running high and her mother’s insistence she marry Scotty Bishop, Lorraine is torn between duty and the man who holds her heart. Will Lorraine risk her relationship with her family to be with Jens or will she marry a man she admires but does not love?
In the present, Lorraine is still adjusting to life without her husband. Her relationship with her daughter Daisy has always been strained and they do not see eye to eye on many things. Lorraine adores her son-in-law Harry but she is a little frustrated after he announces he is looking into the fire that destroyed the original Surf Ballroom back in 1947. He is convinced she might have valuable insight into the fire but Lorraine resists his efforts to discuss the events of that night.
In the past, Lorraine and her family try to adjust to life without Pete. Lorraine is a gifted singer but her mother does not support her daughter’s dreams to professionally perform. She is also very much against her husband bringing German POWs to their farm and she makes no effort to hide her animosity towards them. Lorraine is initially hesitant when she first meets the prisoners but spending time with them helps her understand that not every German is a Nazi. Her relationship with Jens evolves over time into friendship then love but when the war finally ends, the POW camps finally close and the prisoners are deported to Europe. Her life then follows a somewhat predictable path but Lorraine still struggles between doing what is expected of her and following her dreams.
With surprising plot twists and an engaging storyline, Stars Over Clear Lake is an enchanting novel that is quite poignant. Loretta Ellsworth’s impeccable research brings the setting and time period vibrantly to life. The historical elements are quite fascinating and beautifully incorporated into the storyline. The characters are wonderfully developed and immensely appealing. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this delightfully heartwarming novel.
I received a complimentary copy for review.
In Ellsworth's first adult fiction novel, she uses the magical and popular setting of the Surf Ballroom, the last venue of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and "The Big Bopper" before their plane crashed. Her setting is during the prime WWII years when many families in Iowa were sending their sons off to fight and many never seeing them again.
Lorraine is a teenager who watches her brother go off to war. Pete was her mom's favorite and life at home wasn't the same once he left. Instead, Lorraine spent her time on the farm with her father and the POWs that were from the camp in nearby Algona. They came to help on the farm since her brother was off to war. As you can imagine, her mom, as well as many others in the community, did not appreciate having "the enemy" on their land and in their communities. As Lorraine grows up, she struggles with following her heart or following what people expect her to do. She has an amazing voice and spends many nights dancing and wishing about singing at the Surf. One night, her dream comes true and she sings for Jimmy Dorsey at the Surf Ballroom. What happens later that evening will change everyone's lives forever.
Ellsworth jumps between 2007 and the 1940's in telling Lorraine's story both as a teenager and now as an elderly woman. She also has a strained relationship with her daughter, much like her relationship with her own mother. When the secret she has kept her whole life starts to eat away at her, she begins to relive that fateful night and wonders if her daughter will ever be able to understand.
As an Iowan, I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to the Surf Ballroom or heard about the POW camps before this book. Ellsworth shares much detail and history to inform the reader and bring the ballroom to life on the pages. The emotions and passions of the characters seeped off the pages with honesty. The experiences of life during the 1940's take you back to a simpler, but unsure time in our history and the present day story reminds us of our own regrets of the past.
Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the attention to detail and little-known parts of Iowa's history. Besides the family featured in this story, the Surf Ballroom stands alone bringing its own bit of magic to the story. It makes you want to visit and see what stories come to life while you are there. Writing this story was a tribute to Ellsworth's own parents' love story and one she can certainly be proud of.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
After reading the synopsis for this one I was immediately taken with what I found, there was just something about it that spoke to me and had me wanting to dive in and devour every last page... and what a story it turned out to be!! From the very first page I was hooked, wrapped up in the touching story line, feeling the emotion behind every word, and left completely mesmerized. This was my first experience with Ms. Ellsworth's work, and I have to say I was quite pleased with what I found, she kept me completely enthralled from start to finish with this beautifully written tale, and turned me into a lifelong fan!
Highly recommend this one, Lorraine's heart wrenching journey is sure to touch the recesses of your heart, and move you beyond words!!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this title
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story line drifts back and forth from WW2 era to current day 2007.Read more