Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer

Rather than my "usual" review, I'm trying something different. Here are some some thoughts I had after finishing the book.

I loved this book. I got lost in the beginning too, with all of the names to remember. However, just when I thought I was terribly lost, the names all fell into place. I really got into it after that. It was beautifully written and a joy to read.

As for characters, I was fascinated by a few of the relationships: Laura and Nastia, Bonnie and Marta, and finally Peter and Nadia. I admired Peter and Nadia for risking it all to follow their dreams. I loved the ending and really wanted Sonia to find some happiness.

It did make me miss my mother, though. She was Ukrainian and died in 1998. This book brought back all kinds of wonderful memories of her and my childhood. I miss watching her make perogies (varenky) and other ethnic dishes. We (my siblings and I) never did learn to speak Ukrainian like my parents; we just used the odd word here and there…interspersed with English - kind of like in the book. In fact, we still use some of those words we learned as kids. Now I know why “toshi, toshi, toshi” sounds so familiar to me.

Really good book; great ending. I’d recommend it.


  1. I so know what you mean about getting confused with the names, and the who's-related-to-whom at first.
    I was almost tempted to draw some sort of a table for myself and organize everything :)

  2. I thought of the same thing, but resisted just long enough until the names sorted themselves out. ;)

  3. This book is fascinating. It's definitely "chick lit"--lots of interactions between women but also interactions between families (parents and kids and siblings and cousins and friends...). There's a few major themes but it's one of the tertiary stories that will move you and make you think. It's set among several Ukranian immigrants that live for the summer in cottages along a fictional lake in Ontario. Much of the action is related to the last two weeks of summer. You can definitely picture the women and kids and all that is going on. The cover photo is misleading--I don't think it's supposed to be the 39 year old main protagonist...and it doesn't really fit her 16 year old mother's helper (who is always in a bikini) either. If you want a haunting beach read and you're a little interested in immigrant stories in 60's Canada then this is the book.


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