These past fall days have been gorgeous, and it’s been a blessing to enjoy them. Today, in addition to my time outdoors, I watched what I consider a classic in Black cinema: Stormy Weather, released by 20th Century Fox in 1943. The musical was a showcase for the entertainers of that time, and it immortalized Lena Horne. It was amazing to have all that talent in one film, one of the rare movies produced by a major film studio starring an all-Black cast. We have many celebrities of color today, and we still have a long way to go. However, seeing our predecessors onscreen such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, “Fats” Waller, Dooley Wilson, Cab Calloway, Ada Brown, the Nicholas Brothers–truly amazing, and a DVD that will be a part of my collection.
Granted, the movie was a product of its time, given certain stereotypes that went with it, unlike Oscar Micheaux, a Black filmmaker of the day. On the other hand, when Lena Horne came to Hollywood, she was the secret weapon of the NAACP. Her father, Teddy Horne, made it plain to the studio execs that she would not play the stereotypical roles given to Black actresses; she would play herself, and she did. For those who think music videos are a current phenomenon, back in those days, they were called “soundies,” which Lena appeared in before she debuted in feature-length movies. Her first movie, Panama Hattie, wasn’t shown to white southern audiences until her scenes were removed from it. Her two subsequent movies, Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, resonated with Black audiences in the ’40s–the importance of seeing faces that look like your own.
That being said, I’d love to share my reflections on today’s romance novel, Cheryl Barton’s The Lake House. Danielle Fenton and Gannon Wilcox were high school sweethearts, their families being friends of long standing. In their college days, however, Danielle broke things off with Gannon for greener pastures. What she got was crabgrass, in the form of her now ex-husband. Controlling and merely wanting her as arm candy, he was a manwhore who slogged her name through the mud with women and children out of wedlock. Gannon, smarting from his breakup with Danielle, later married a scheming, conniving woman who denied him the one thing he wanted most: children, pretending she was infertile while secretly taking birth control pills.
Years later, thankfully divorced from those losers, Danielle and Gannon, unbeknownst to one another, take some time off to regroup at their respective families’ lake houses. Said homes are on adjoining property, and the source of happier days for them as a couple long ago. Will Danielle get past her guilt for dumping Gannon and making the biggest mistake of her life? Will the summer at the lake house work its magic and heat up the embers of their old flame? Will their exes finally receive the memo that they’ve been kicked to the curb permanently?
From the time they met again at this magical spot, I was rooting for Danielle and Gannon. Cheryl Barton set a pace and flow that gradually reunites the couple, rediscovering what made them special even after messy breakups in their personal lives. Sure, they had family members that wanted nothing more than to see them together again, yet I as a reader felt like I was a part of their private world at the lake house, and I loved it.
For your reading enjoyment, The Lake House is available at your local branch of the Amazon/Barnes & Noble library, waiting for you to experience the magic.