A Fool’s journey begins with a single step…
Julia Morton Michaud has fled Chicago for her grandparents’ summer home in Michiana. She believes the cottage near Lake Michigan will be a refuge – a quiet place for her to pursue a writing career while her spirit heals from a string of failed relationships. But her past keeps intruding. Her ex-husband, Lance, is under investigation for defrauding his wealthy investors, and the specter of having to testify at his trial hangs over her. She begins a new relationship with a man she hardly knows. And her neighbor and former lover, David Turner, is trapped in his own troubled marriage.
Julia discovers a labyrinth in the woods near her cottage. It belongs to Elsie and Thea, the elderly ladies who live at the end of the lane. Julia wants to use it for meditation, but she doesn’t know the risks. For the women have their own agenda, and it’s tied to the rug Elsie is endlessly weaving. The truths Julia learns in the labyrinth have the potential to change all their lives – if only she will take them to heart.
I really enjoyed this book. Lynne Cantwell is a good example of an indie writer who is as professional in her approach as any traditionally published author. Indeed she is more so, because she has a hand in all stages of her books' production. Her commitment to writing can be measured by the fact that her Goodreads page lists some 30 book credits. And her commitment to helping others is evidenced by her involvement in a number of Indie author groups.
Most of Cantwell's books would be categorized as (Urban) Fantasy. This book however is not - being contemporary romance with an element of magic realism. I got the impression that this was a very personal book for the author. It is set in northwest Indiana, where she grew up, and so in a way Julia's homecoming is also Cantwell's. Then there is the presence of the two older women, who play an important part in Julia's "fool's journey". It is implied in the book that the rug has a magical quality to it and that the two women are wise women. A visit to the author's blog http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com reveals an interest in knitting and the production of textiles and in Wiccan beliefs.
I say in the paragraph above that the magic is implied and indeed it is. The reader is left to decide how much of what happens is influenced by the older women and how much would have happened anyway. Julia is susceptible to their influence, because she is at a point in her journey where she has lost everything and must start again. Like the Tarot fool that she sees when she enters the labyrinth, she must step into the void and fall. I have recently read and reviewed several magic realist books, which use this symbol.
But don't let my talk of Tarot and symbols mislead you. This is a book which is well-grounded in the real modern world and it is perfectly possible to read this book as a jolly good romance. One of the things I liked about it was the fact that Julia's love interest is not an Alpha male, indeed she has had enough of them, but is instead a gentle caring man, who is torn between his love for Julia and his responsibilities as a father, and as a husband to a mentally ill wife.
This book works in many ways and on several levels. Another excellent example of indie magic realism.
I received this book free from the author in return for a fair review.