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The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
This weekend, we recommend a getaway to a lake-side resort in Vermont with Elinor Lipman’s The Inn at Lake Devine. You’ll find yourself right smack in the middle of a romantic comedy that’s charming, yes, but also packs a punch.
Our heroine Natalie Marx is a firecracker. Her personal hero is Anne Frank, and she shares the diarist’s stubbornness and innate sense of self and justice.
Natalie is equal parts fight and vulnerability, two traits that we continue to see as the story follows her from her teenage years in 1962 to adulthood in the ’80s.
While the catalyst of the action is the gently-worded, oh-so-polite anti-Semitism of the 1960s, this story is really a love story. With light humor and a few moments of devastating heartbreak, it’s all about family, forgiveness, and the grace inherent in every kind of love.
The misadventures begin when Natalie’s mom requests accommodations at a vacation spot in Vermont. The reply from the proprietress infuriates 12-year-old Natalie: ‘The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.’
These two sentences set Natalie on a course that changes her whole life. Along the way, the story delivers laugh-out-loud moments, a shocking surprise, and complicated, rewarding relationships among a cast of unforgettable characters. You will fall in love and have your heart broken — and then healed — right along with Nat. And the story spans all the seasons, with a particulary memorable Christmas spent at the inn.
These pages are populated by real, messy people who make real, messy mistakes. There’s a not a pushover in the bunch, including the author. Elinor Lipman is just the best at writing novels that seem frothy on the surface, yet tackle challenging issues with a hand so deft, you barely notice the steel frame underneath the sparkle.
It was not complicated, and, as my mother pointed out, not even personal: They had a hotel; they didn’t want Jews; we were Jews. — Elinor Lipman
This romantic comedy (272 pages) was published in April of 1999 by Vintage. The book takes you to a lake resort in Vermont. Melissa read The Inn at Lake Devine and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
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Photo by Nicolas Erwin.
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Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
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