Thursday, October 19, 2023

Book Review - On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni

My Review

Cora Matthews returns to Moonberry Lake when her mother passes away suddenly. She discovers she has inherited her grandparents' lodge, a place she loved as a child but hasn't visited in many years.  The lodge is in great disrepair, and as she sets about restoring it, she discovers a new community in this quirky little Minnesota town.

I wanted to read On Moonberry Lake because the story resonated with me. My mother also recently passed and I am working on a beloved old house restoration. I enjoy small town fiction and found the lakeside lodge setting appealing.

This book was a delight from start to finish.  I love small towns that become almost a character themselves - like Mayberry or Lake Wobegon or Stars Hollow.  There is a rich variety of quirky but lovable neighbors that Cora becomes acquainted with, and I loved meeting every one of them too. 

The story of the lodge restoration held great interest for me, but I also enjoyed reading how Cora restored her soul and sense of place as she settled into this little community.  There are a couple of twists and turns and even a sweet love story.

There is also great humor, as seen in the "Sightings and Satire" column of the local newspaper, with tidbits like:

It’s that time of year again for the fire department to check and flush the fire hydrants. As torrents of water are released, residents are encouraged to use the water wisely by participating in public bathing. Come wash your dogs, cars, and children. Note that nudity is prohibited. Although all creation is to be celebrated, some is better left covered" (eBook location 5202).

It appears that On Moonberry Lake is going to be the first in a series, and I hope it is a long series - as I intend to read every book.  I cannot recommend this charming and uplifting novel highly enough.

Book Synopsis

Cora Matthews's life is a mess. A broken engagement and the unexpected death of her mother have left her wondering if things will ever return to normal. Whatever "normal" is.

It certainly isn't what she finds at Moonberry Lake. After she receives her family's dilapidated lakefront lodge as an inheritance--with a surprising condition attached--Cora finds her life overrun by a parade of eccentric neighbors who all have something to say and something to teach her.

As Cora works to put her life back together, she must decide if she is willing to let go of the past, open her heart to love, and embrace the craziest version of family and home she could ever have imagined. 

Author Bio

Holly Varni is a native Minnesotan of strong Norwegian descent, who was raised in the Lutheran Church that Garrison Keillor made a career depicting. Between the lutefisk, grumpy grandparents, and crazy neighbors who mowed their lawn wearing pajamas, the seed to becoming a storyteller was planted. Though she, her husband, and their three sons live along the Central Coast of California, her beloved Midwest roots continue to haunt everything she writes. She hosts the Moments from Moonberry Lake podcast where she shares more stories of her beloved characters. Learn more at