Review: Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

Title: Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (40s), Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Mesmerizing and romantic, Stars Over Clear Lake transports readers to the Surf Ballroom, where musical acts became legends in the 1940s and which holds the key to one woman’s deepest secret.

Lorraine Kindred’s most cherished memories are of the Surf Ballroom, the place where youth lost themselves to the brassy sounds and magnetic energy of the big band swing, where boys spent their last nights before shipping off to war—and where Lorraine herself was swept away by a star-crossed romance.

Returning to the ballroom for the first time in decades, Lorraine enters a dazzling world she thought long vanished. But as the sparkling past comes to life, so does the fateful encounter that forced her to choose between her heart and her duty all those years ago—and Lorraine must face the secret she’s buried ever since. Along the way, she’ll rediscover herself, her passion, and her capacity for resilience.

Set during the 1940s and the present and inspired by a real-life ballroom, Loretta Ellsworth’s Stars Over Clear Lake is a moving story of forbidden love, lost love, everlasting love—and self love.


Weaving back in forth between the 1940s and 2007, Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth is a emotionally compelling novel that is quite captivating.

A year after losing her husband, Lorraine Kindred’s memories of life during the 1940s are in the forefront of her mind following a night at the Surf Ballroom. Lorraine cannot stop thinking about how dramatically life with her parents on their Iowa farm changed after her brother Pete enlisted during World War II.  After Pete leaves for the battlefield, her father hires German POWs from a nearby POW camp to help work their farm. As Lorraine gets to the know the men working with her father, her viewpoint of “the enemy” gradually shifts and her friendship with Jens eventually turns to love.  However with anti-German sentiment running high and her mother’s insistence she marry Scotty Bishop, Lorraine is torn between duty and the man who holds her heart. Will Lorraine risk her relationship with her family to be with Jens or will she marry a man she admires but does not love?

In the present, Lorraine is still adjusting to life without her husband.  Her relationship with her daughter Daisy has always been strained and they do not see eye to eye on many things.  Lorraine adores her son-in-law Harry but she is a little frustrated after he announces he is looking into the fire that destroyed the original Surf Ballroom back in 1947. He is convinced she might have valuable insight into the fire but Lorraine resists his efforts to discuss the events of that night.

In the past, Lorraine and her family try to adjust to life without Pete.  Lorraine is a gifted singer but her mother does not support her daughter’s dreams to professionally perform. She is also very much against her husband bringing German POWs to their farm and she makes no effort to hide her animosity towards them. Lorraine is initially hesitant when she first meets the prisoners but spending time with them helps her understand that not every German is a Nazi. Her relationship with Jens evolves over time into friendship then love but when the war finally ends, the POW camps finally close and the prisoners are deported to Europe. Her life then follows a somewhat predictable path but Lorraine still struggles between doing what is expected of her and following her dreams.

With surprising plot twists and an engaging storyline, Stars Over Clear Lake is an enchanting novel that is quite poignant. Loretta Ellsworth’s impeccable research brings the setting and time period vibrantly to life.  The historical elements are quite fascinating and beautifully incorporated into the storyline.  The characters are wonderfully developed and immensely appealing. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this delightfully heartwarming novel.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Historical, Historical (40s), Loretta Ellsworth, Rated B+, Review, Stars Over Clear Lake, Thomas Dunne Books, Women's Fiction

One Response to Review: Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

  1. Timitra

    Oooh sounds good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy