Irene's Reviews > The Ladies' Lending Library

The Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer
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Apr 09, 10

Read in January, 2002

The tumultuous 60's have not yet touched the women of Kalyna Beach. As first generation Ukrainian Canadians, they are enjoying advantages their parents never were able to provide. While their husbands work in the city, the women and their children are able to summer at their cottages. Each Friday, the husbands join them for the weekend; it doesn't get better than this.

Women cannot leave their work behind; the daily schedule still requires all the attendant duties. Instilled are the cultural rules and mores that not only bind them, but unconsciously pit woman against woman on a daily basis.

Friday afternoon gin and book discussions provide their respite before the men return. On Sasha's porch, they gather to discuss their books; books hidden in secret places in each cottage; what a disgrace it would be for a child or husband to find a copy of FANNIE HILL. Relaxed and amiable, the discussions eventually digress to gossip.

With the release of the movie Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor provides a provocative twist to previous discussions. Richard Burton is rebuked, but given this group's mindset; Elizabeth Taylor as woman has taken the low moral ground and cannot be forgiven.

Each woman carries her secret burden: Sonia, a mother with four daughters drifts to thoughts of her previous life as a model. She and Laura, her oldest clash as Sonia struggles to regain her lost self while Laura begins the journey to find herself.

Sasha asserts herself as the group leader, intent upon keeping the ladies in line, while she struggles with her own ideology. Nadia, wife of the most successful man among them, flits in and out, a butterfly searching for the most fragrant flower.

The end-of-season party at Nadia and Jack's villa approaches and all that was will never be the same. Secrets are discovered, and promises are broken. Will summer at Kaylna Beach ever be the same?

I didn't want this book to end; it was a fantastic read. A different culture, but similar to mine as an immigrant of Polish descent. This book gave me a better understanding of my mother; especially as I read about Chucha Marta's past.

I read Caramelo recently, and was amazed how different cultures adapt to their new environment. Some flourish, some remain forever imbedded in the Old Country.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Irene That is quite a compliment coming from such a prolific reviewer. Thank you, Tara!


message 2: by Tara (new)

Tara Chevrestt I like your reviews, Irene!


Rose I think I took alot for granted when reading this book. I changed my rating from 2 to 4 stars after reading your review. You were right when you said, "As first generation Ukrainian Canadians, they are enjoying advantages their parents never were able to provide."


Rose I am a first generation Ukrainian American.


Irene "....advantages their parents never were able to provide or able to afford..."

A more accurate description, I believe.


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