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The Women of Great Heron Lake

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From the author of the bestselling historical novel, MISS ETTA.

Two strong women, generations apart, living parallel lives.

When Marla Madison’s husband dies, she realizes her life has become very small. Her daughter is grown and Marla has spent the past two decades focused on his friends, his interests, and his home. Feeling lost, she throws herself into fixing up the one-hundred and fifty-year-old family manor on the lake. She soon discovers an old journal in a secret drawer and is instantly intrigued. The handwritten book tells the tale of another Mrs. Madison from over a century ago, the first woman to live in the lake manor. As Marla reads the journal, she discovers that her life parallels that of the woman who wrote those words decades ago and Marla finds inspiration from her strength.

1875 - Alaina Carlton was content to become a spinster until her beloved father introduces her to Nathaniel Madison, one of the most prosperous men in St. Paul, Minnesota. Even though she values her independence, Alaina is intrigued by this man who pursues her. When they marry, she believes she’s found a man who will treat her as an equal, but soon realizes that isn’t entirely true. From their mansion on the illustrious Summit Avenue to their manor at Great Heron Lake, where the rich and powerful play, her life is no longer her own. But fifteen years and two children later when Nathaniel grows ill, she takes her rightful place where women weren’t allowed in order to secure her children’s inheritance and her future.

An inspiring family saga of two determined woman who found meaning in their lives by following their passions and not allowing society, or propriety, to hold them back.

321 pages, Kindle Edition

Published September 10, 2019

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About the author

Deanna Lynn Sletten

28 books500 followers
Deanna Lynn Sletten is the author of THE ONES WE LEAVE BEHIND, MISS ETTA, THE WOMEN OF GREAT HERON LAKE, MAGGIE'S TURN, THE LAKE HARRIET SERIES, and several other titles. She writes heartwarming women's fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna has recently begun a new murder mystery series, The Rachel Emery Series which includes THE TRUTH ABOUT RACHEL and DEATH BECOMES YOU.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing on the lake in the summer.

Deanna loves hearing from her readers. Connect with her at:

Her blog: deannalynnsletten.com
Twitter: @DeannaLSletten
Facebook: facebook.com/DeannaLynnSletten

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5 stars
1,356 (68%)
4 stars
475 (23%)
3 stars
125 (6%)
2 stars
24 (1%)
1 star
11 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 125 reviews
Profile Image for Kristina.
256 reviews28 followers
March 15, 2020
Nope. Nope. Ugh. Nope. This was my book club’s latest selection and was an (almost) complete bust for me. One star gone for typos & grammatical errors, another star gone for a completely unbelievable storyline. One more star gone for the cliche, saccharine, vomit-inducing plot and characters. One star remaining for the setting and the second star (graciously) given for the “heroine’s” circle of friends who were disappointingly underdeveloped. Ironically, this book tries to condemn snobbery but ends up being snobbish. I abhor snobbery but am also absolutely a book snob. So, don’t necessarily listen to my opinion here, but also don’t go into reading this expecting a classic work of literature. Cheers!
Profile Image for Susan (The Book Bag).
779 reviews67 followers
September 12, 2019
I love the idea of connections between generations, stories of people or things that come together over time and mesh, for whatever reason. The Women of Great Heron Lake does just that.

After Marla's husband dies, she is at a loss as to what to do with herself. She has lived her husband's life and in his shadow for so many years. As she starts to change the house they lived in, she finds a journal written by another Mrs. Madison, many, many years ago. As the house changes, so does Marla. As she reads the old journal, she finds similarities between her life and and the life of a woman who lived in the late 1800's. The words in the journal speak to Marla and help her move forward.

This is a story full of interesting, evolving relationships and strong women who stand up for themselves in a time when that wasn't done or when it goes against what society expects of them. As the women grow and change, they discover their own strengths and learn to do what makes them happy.

One of my favorite parts of the book was how the book group embraced Marla and read the journal together as they discovered how Alaina's life unfolded. The women were so accepting of Marla and helped her get her priorities and life figured out. They became so important to her—women supporting women.

The Women of Great Heron Lake is a captivating tale of loss, friendship, discovery, fate, growth, and strength—a story spanning over 100 years. This is historical fiction at its best and is definitely one everyone should pick up. I loved it and highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Sandra.
165 reviews
April 4, 2020
This was a sweet, easy read and perfect for taking one's mind off of woes of any sort.
Profile Image for Dianna.
248 reviews
October 10, 2019
I LOVE Deanna Sletten. I have been following her from the beginning.
I always say that she CANNOT get any better and WHAM she comes along with a BETTER story.

If you haven't read Ms. Sletten I strongly advise you to do so. Her stories are amazing. Her research is amazing.

Cannot wait for the next one.
Profile Image for Janet Friesner.
938 reviews9 followers
September 12, 2019
Outstanding book

Loved this book. One of best books I've read. A really good story. Maybe the fact that I was born in St. Paul 88 years ago added to the joy. The book is a keeper. Highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Lovetoread.
342 reviews27 followers
July 25, 2022
I borrowed this from Amazon Unlimited for free. I have to tell you The Women of Great Heron Lake is one of the best reads I have in 2022. In fact it was so good after returning it to Amazon I purchased the novel. Deanna Lynn Sletten is an incredible author. This is the second book of hers I have read.

If you are struggling, looking for a good read I recommend this book. I am not going into the story because the description tells you what you need to know. I will add the characters are well developed and very likable, the story I found very interesting, Just an overall excellent read.
Profile Image for Kassie Renae.
186 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2022
I, again enjoyed the back and forth between past and present. I also enjoyed the journal aspect of this story. I will say that this is the second book I’ve read by this author and I don’t know if she dislikes men or it simply has to do with the time period she is writing about, but the main men seem to always be awful. I enjoy reading about the time period in the journal entries. I will read more from this author.
Profile Image for Rachel.
47 reviews
December 13, 2020
Captivating book! When the past meets the present... family history shapes who we are.

This book drew me in immediately from the very first page. I felt as if I were right there with the characters, feeling their moments of sadness and joy; each being so relatable. I absolutely loved the journal, I felt like I was stepping back in time. This book was such a delight to read, I didn’t want to put it down nor did I wish it to ever end!
April 6, 2020
Lovely story

The past and the present are skillfully intertwined when Marla discovers a journal written by Alaina who lived over a hundred and fifty years before her in the same estate. This amazing woman was married to her recently deceased husband's ancestor. The journal helps Marla through her grief as she reinvents herself along with the help of her new friends. Alaina and Marla's lives parallel one
another and are so inspiring!



28 reviews3 followers
September 16, 2019
Wow!

I could not put this book down. I would love to see the story continue where this one ends. There are still Madison ancestors we haven't heard from.
Profile Image for Shreedevi Gurumurty.
642 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2020
A captivating tale of loss, friendship, discovery, fate, growth, and strength-a story spanning over 100 years. When Marla Madison's husband, Nathan, dies, she realises that her life has been limited. Her daughter, Reese, is in college now and Marla has spent the better part of twenty years always focused on her husband's friends, his interests and his ancestral home, which he has bequeathed to her in his will. Feeling lost, she throws herself into fixing up the 150 years old manor property on the lake. In doing so, she soon discovers an old journal in a secret drawer and is instantly intrigued. The handwritten book tells the tale of another Mrs Madison from over a century ago, the first woman to reside in the lake manor.As Marla reads the journal, she discovers that her life parallels that of the woman who wrote those words and Marla finds inspiration from her strength. In 1875, Alaina Carlton was content to be a spinster and help her beloved, widowed father, Arthur, out with his growing textiles business, but then he introduces her to Nathaniel Madison, one of the most prosperous men in St Paul, MN. Even though she values her independence, Alaina is intrigued by Nathaniel and they marry after a year's courtship. Once married, Alaina believes that she'll have a marriage of equality, but then finds out that isn't entirely true, as Nathaniel believes in status.He expects Alaina to play the role of a dutiful wife and perfect society hostess. From their mansion on the illustrious Summit Avenue to their major at Great Heron Lake, where the rich and powerful play, her life is no longer her own. But 15 years and 2 children later, when Nathaniel becomes ill, she takes her rightful place where women weren't allowed to be in order to secure her children's inheritance and her future.An inspiring family saga of 2 determined women who found meaning in their lives by following their passions and not allowing society, or propriety, to hold them back.The Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association was an organisation that struggled to secure women's vote from 1881-1920. They organised marches, wrote petitions and letters and gave speeches.
Profile Image for Phyllis.
251 reviews
August 3, 2021
I really liked this historical fiction book written by a new author for me. It definitely held my interest and it was hard to put down. This book told of how family history sometimes repeats itself and shapes who you are and the changes you make over time. The main character, Marla, finds a journal from over 100 years ago written by an ancestor ,through marriage. As the journal entries unravel, she finds that her life and the life of the ancestor ,Alaina, parallel one another. She decides to share the journal with her book club friends. They take turns reading it to each other at their meetings. I thought that was a great idea! The book was about friendship, loss, discovery of oneself and the strength it took to overcome their role in society, which was to be inferior to men.
508 reviews8 followers
April 7, 2020
I loved this book! When Marla Madison’s husband dies, she is left with a huge family mansion and plenty of money. To keep herself busy, she decides to redo some rooms, and comes across a diary written by Alaina, the first Mrs. Madison to live in the house. She discovers she has many things in common with Alaina, including mental abuse and seclusion. She meets a new group of friends through a book club, and together they read Alaina’s journal. The book club ladies support Marla and help her to find out what she wants to accomplish in her life. The historical fiction story spans over 100 years and is one you should not miss!
1 review
September 7, 2021
Mesmerizing

I stumbled across this book on my facebook feed & was curious. I opened the kink and from the very first paragraph the story pulled me in. This is not typically the kind of book I would read, but before I realized it, I was 4 chapters in, the story had me. Deanna creates relatable characters woven together in unexpected ways in a story you feel part of. The tenor, the style of her writing is refreshing and will now always be a part of me. If you are looking for an edge of your seat thriller, this isn't the book for you. If you are looking for inspiration or a reminder of a woman's heart, of a woman's spirit and strength, you are going to love this.
144 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2022
This is a truly beautiful story!

I found both parts of this story just perfect! Part of the story takes place in the world of today when a 46 year old newly widowed woman, Marla Madison, is having to learn how to live in a world without her wealthy husband, Nathanial. The other part of the story involves the finding of a journal written by Alaina, the first Mrs.Madison from 1876 and speaks to her life and struggles during that time. It is a thoughtful, imaginative book that I thoroughly enjoyed and found myself staying up late to learn just a bit more about these wonderful women and the men surrounding them.
4 reviews
May 5, 2020
Excellent story

As a lover of genealogy I immediately was drawn in the moment the main character found a hidden 150 year old journal. The transition between present day and the past was seamless and easy to read. I would recommend this book to lovers of both historical and women's fiction. After reading this book, I will definitely be interested in reading more of the authors works.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 5 books30 followers
August 23, 2020
I savored this story of two women from two times and connected by family, a mansion, and a journal. Marla's husband passes away after 20 years of marriage. He is "old money" and by the time he married Marla, he had already done the things he wanted and was ready to settle down. He expected that of his young wife and she complied. After he passed, Marla had to find out who she was and what she wanted from life. Then she ran across the journal. And everything changed.
Profile Image for Dianna Peck.
54 reviews3 followers
November 1, 2022
Truly a wonderful book

This is the second time I've read this book because it is just that good. So well written, full of life experiences women have gone through and still do. I really wish there was a sequel to this story, a continuation of the Madison women. Did Reese go on to carry on the legacy of Alaina? Did Marla find another of Alaina journals?
Highly recommend this author and all her books.
February 1, 2020
I really enjoyed the way this book was written. Not only was it a clean story, but the plot was different from most. A modern day character, Marla, was paralleled by a character from 150 years ago, Ariana. Connecting the two was a diary which chronicled Ariana’s life: her marriage & upper crust life to a husband who was the ancestor of Marla’s husband. The author segued easily from the present to the past & back again effortlessly. There was a lot of good psychology imbedded in the thoughts & resulting actions of the two main characters. It was hard to put down!
193 reviews
April 17, 2020
Wonderful message for women

I truly loved this book. As a matter of fact, it would be a great book club, book! I enjoyed the main character, Marla, she never allowed hard times or others to stand in her way. She was going to pioneer through, and she did. I would definitely recommend this book.
11 reviews
October 19, 2020
The characters were just too slick. Why are the men always smart, tall and handsome? The woman was plain but somehow became beautiful?

Story line was enjoyable but those characters need to be more real. Can only beautiful women be rich and successful? Why are short chubby people ever do anything remarkable? Women with a heavy build and strong bones never seem to count.
532 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2020
Loved this book . great story about strong willed women spanning one hundred or so years. Thank goodness we do not live in those times when women were so under the dominance of men regarding how they dressed, acted and could not even control their own inheritance or manage a business under the pretext that businesses were solely a man's domain.
A really enjoyable read for me.
March 25, 2021
Strong women.....

This book was recommended to me by a long time friend. She & I are best friends like Alaina & Hannah. She is a strong woman. And I knowing who my mother was & what she instilled in my three sisters & me am a strong woman too. I only hope I have raised my two daughters to be strong as well. By the look of things so far, I’d say they are off to a wonderful start.
Profile Image for Candi Lacy.
4 reviews
September 5, 2021
Excellent read

I truly enjoyed this book. I have done a lot of reading lately and this is one of the best. The way it was told from the old journal mirroring the present day characters made for an interesting storyline showing the determination of strong women to rise above their circumstances to make a real difference. I highly recommend this quite enjoyable book.
836 reviews4 followers
December 24, 2021
A Trip Through the Past With Women From the Past Who Made a Difference!

I really enjoyed this book about the women of a family who worked in their own generation to make a difference in the lives of women. These women of means helped downtrodden women through the generations. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
158 reviews
February 11, 2022
Book review

Wow! What an incredible story. Very well written with emotion,that you can't help but become a part of. Alaina and Maria's lives are so intertwined, yet different. Truly remarkable women. Thank you to the author for one of the best reads I have had, in a very long time. I look forward to het next book. Again, WOW!!!
August 8, 2022
Amazing Read

Beautiful book and an amazing story. I found myself so immersed in the book, I was laughing and cheering for the characters. Deanna Lynn Sletten does a wonderful job in making all the characters come to life. A great read. I will be passing this one to my sister and friends!
Profile Image for Vikki Vaught.
Author 11 books159 followers
December 8, 2022
My Musings

What a fascinating story with compelling characters and an intriguing plot. It's told through 21st Century Marla, and 19th century Alaina. Their paths are similar and kept me engaged until the last page. I am so glad I found this one in Kindle Unlimited with audio included. The narrator added to my enjoyment. Happy reading and listening!
Displaying 1 - 29 of 125 reviews

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