The water dancers / Terry Gamble.
Booklist Monthly Selections - # 1 May 2003
/*Starred Review*/ Sixteen-year-old Native American Rachel Winnapee, taken in by nuns after her grandmother's death, earns her keep by working at the Marches' lavish Victorian summer home on the shores of Lake Michigan. The perks include cast-off designer clothing and leftover gourmet food, but for the fiercely proud Rachel, they are spoiled by their designation as "charity." Woody March returns from World War II a haunted and broken man, heavily addicted to morphine as a result of losing his leg. Rachel and Woody, both wracked by a feeling of being somehow incomplete, embark on a healing and joyful love affair, which ends disastrously when the formidable family matriarch discovers that Rachel is pregnant. Rachel eventually returns to her native village, while Woody marries moneyed socialite Elizabeth. Some 30 years later, Woody's sons by Rachel and Elizabeth--one a restless Vietnam vet, the other a dissolute artist--don't just cross racial and class boundaries, they stand them on their head. In this luminous first novel, Gamble (a descendant of one of the founders of Procter and Gamble) imparts a remarkable sense of place while launching a searing indictment of prejudice, all the while demonstrating a restrained, understated lyricism that only serves to heighten the novel's power ((Reviewed May 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
LJ Reviews 2003 May #1
Moving from 1945 to 1956 to 1970, this first novel explores issues of race, class, and duty among the summer people on Lake Michigan. The Marches, a prominent family who divide their time between St. Louis and the lake, face adversity when the favorite son is killed in World War II and the surviving son, Woody, returns without a leg and with a drug problem. A family (husband, wife, and daughter) of African American servants make the trip with them, and their social circles change little with their location. In the summer, the family is assisted by a young Native American girl, Rachel, a charity case referred by the local nuns. Before the war, Woody was engaged to Elizabeth, who's having a hard time reconciling herself to marrying a wounded veteran. Rachel has known enough of life to have little sympathy for Woody's self-pity but not enough of servitude to humble herself like the full-time servants. She bullies Woody into healing, and in the process, the two fall in love. By summer's end, Woody is whole enough to marry Elizabeth, and Rachel is too proud to let him know she's expecting. These three characters, plus two sons, are reunited in 1956 to tragic end. By 1970, social mores have changed enough to allow sons born to wealth to avoid military service, while sons born to poverty go off and fight their wars for them. A descendant of a Procter and Gamble cofounder, the author clearly knows the class system of which she writes, and her sympathies lie with the servant classes and not her own. This is not social criticism, however, but a literary work that is not exactly a compelling page-turner but does feature well-drawn characters and engaging prose. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. Lib. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
PW Review 2003 April #2
Racial and class conflicts simmer in this lackluster first novel by Gamble, a romance set in a district of lavish summer homes on Lake Michigan and in a nearby Native American community. Sixteen-year-old Rachel Winnapee, an orphaned Odawa Indian, goes to work as a maid for the affluent March family in 1945. She becomes a nurse for the Marches' son, Woody, recently back from the war minus a leg. The two have an affair that ends with the close of the summer season, after which Rachel discovers that she's pregnant. She doesn't tell Woody (who goes on to marry a society girl), and she raises the baby, Ben, on a nearby farm owned by the two midwives who delivered him. After nine years on the farm, Rachel becomes reacquainted with Honda Jack, an aspiring Native American community leader from her Odawa settlement. He persuades Rachel to move back, and she once again encounters the snobbish Mrs. March, who tells her that Woody has recently died in an accident. Rachel tells her the truth about Ben, and the two make a secret pact: Mrs. March will give Rachel enough money for Honda Jack to purchase the land that whites have stolen from the Odawa, and Rachel promises to keep Ben's father's identity hidden. The volume then skips to 1970, when Ben, back from Vietnam, returns to the Odawa community and finds work near the March home. Soon the March and Winnapee families begin to learn each other's secrets, leading to an explosive finale. Gamble is sincere in her critique of the prejudice and carelessness of the exclusive summer set. The plot is melodramatic, however, and the characters are painted in broad, familiar strokes, weakening the impact of Gamble's plea for social justice. Agent, Carole Bidnick. 7-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.