A stunning debut novel from a new voice in literary fiction, set on Lake Michigan following World War II, The Water Dancers limns the divide between the worlds of the wealthy elite “summer people” and the poor native population who serve them–and what happens when those worlds collide.
When Rachel Winnapee first comes to work at the March family summer home on vast and beautiful Lake Michigan, she quickly learns her place. Servants are seen and not heard as they bring the breakfast trays, wash and iron luxurious clothes, and serve gin and tonics to the wealthy family as they lounge on the deck playing bridge. Orphaned as a poverty–stricken young girl from the nearby band of Native Americans, Rachel is in awe of the Marches' glamorous life–and quite enamored of the family's son Woody.
Rachel is soon assigned the task of caring for Woody, a young man whose life has been changed utterly by his experience as a soldier in WWII. The war has cost Woody not only his leg, but, worse, the older brother he loved and admired. Now back at home, Woody cannot bear to face the obligations of his future – especially when it comes to his bride–to–be Elizabeth. Woody finds himself drawn to Rachel, who is like no one he's ever known. The love affair that unites these two lost souls in this Great Gatsby–esque portrait of class division will alter the course of their lives in ways both heartbreaking and profound.
This novel's richness is due, in part, to the author's memories of summers spent at her family's house on Lake Michigan, home to six generations of Gambles (as in Procter & Gamble). THE WATER DANCERS, told in a voice as clear and cool as lake water, is a luminescent tale of love, loss and redemption, and heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent.