Synopses & Reviews
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.
In the post-World War II summer of 1945, Rachel Winnapee, a poverty-stricken sixteen-year-old Native American orphan, goes to work at the grand summer home of the March family on the shores of Lake Michigan. Surrounded by wealth, she strives to remain invisible, until she is assigned the task of caring for the family's emotionally shattered young scion, Woody March, a veteran haunted by his battlefield memories.
Rachel is a young woman with no future; Woody's has already been mapped out in intricate detail: he is to run a successful banking business, marry the well-bred Elizabeth, and carry on the family name with distinction. Yet the weight of these obligations becomes unbearable as he finds himself inexorably drawn to Rachel. As the relationship between the two intensifies, it moves toward one pivotal event that will change their lives forever.
About the Author
Terry Gamble has had numerous poems, short stories, and essays published in literary journals. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives in San Francisco with her husband and children. The Water Dancers is her first novel.