Michigan and the Great Lakes

A Spell on the Water

Marjorie Kowalski Cole


In 1955, Mary and Jim Leader have the American dream: careers in medicine; a young and healthy family; and even a vacation home—a shabby resort far from bustling Chicago. But one hot afternoon changes everything. Mary, now a widow, must find a path out of her grief into a future for herself and five small children.

In Michigan to sell the resort, Mary sees seven hawks riding the storm winds over the lake. This place, she thinks, can heal them with its wild beauty, so she moves her family to the northern lakeshore.

But Mary has forgotten what it's like to live in a tiny rural community, where almost everyone has a stake in maintaining the status quo. Secrets are kept at great cost as Mary's children often struggle to raise themselves. A coming-of-age story for each member of the family, this is a novel of quiet heroism and the power of personal freedom.

"I couldn't put it down."
—Barbara Kingsolver

Praise for Marjorie Kowalski Cole and her previous novel, Correcting the Landscape:

". . . her writing is simple, vivid and gorgeous."
Eugene Register-Guard

". . . a remarkable new talent. Critics have lined up to praise the book."
Tucson Citizen

"Cole's style is subtle but engrossing . . . It is quite a debut."

Cover illustration: ©iStockphoto.com/ImagineGolf

Marjorie Kowalski Cole died in December 2009 at age 56. She was a prodigious writer, and her novel Correcting the Landscape won the 2004 Bellwether Prize, which honors socially and politically engaged fiction.

Praise / Awards

  • "This novel held me rapt. I couldn't put it down, couldn't wait to finish—some stories should be like this—like life. I am so impressed with Cole's craft, her wisdom, the way she can hold whole worlds of relationship and conflict in the palm of her hand as a writer."
    —Barbara Kingsolver

  • "...the author's confident craft means readers can sink deep into the rich story, companions along the way instead of observers at a distance."
    Foreword Reviews

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Product Details

  • 250 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02756-9

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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  • $19.95 U.S.

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  • northern Michigan, inland lake, small town, nature, rural, summer tourism novel, Barbara Kingsolver, Correcting the Landscape, Family problems