The Lakewoman

Written by Alan Gould
Review by Elizabeth Jane

Alec Dearborn, a thoroughly likeable Australian soldier in the British paratroopers, takes part in the Allied invasion of France. On the eve of the D-Day offensive, he crosses the Channel prepared to fight but still unsure of how he will acquit himself, having developed no personal animosity towards the enemy. When his aircraft is shot down over Normandy, he manages to break free, landing in a lake, and is rescued by an enigmatic French woman. After being revived and hidden, he sets out to join his troops but is unable to erase the impression Mamzelle leaves in his mind. His search, and its eventual conclusion, makes a poignant, mystical and yet utterly believable tale.

In this literary novel, poet Alan Gould catches the voice of the era and renders it beautifully. Every sentence is worthy of lingering reflection. The narrative starts strongly, with Dearborn plunged into a cold lake, entwined in his parachute, and struggling for breath. He paints the relationship with Mamzelle with a fine brush. Although the protagonist spends only a few hours in her presence, we understand her indelible appeal. Chapter Two is largely back-story, which interrupts the narrative flow briefly. There are also a couple of instances in which the passing of time draws unnecessary attention to itself. But these are minor considerations. The overall work is a thing of beauty, tender, heartfelt and compelling. A meditation on love and morality in a time of war, this story lingers long after its final page is turned.