“When the stars sang” by Caren J.Welinger is a beautiful romance novel featuring two very realistic characters: Kathleen Halloran and Molly Cooper. The story is embedded with a mixture of feelings: love, lust, guilt, kindness, legacy and diverse second characters, the good: Olivia, Louisa, Molly’s family, the people from the island and the bad: Kathleen’s parents, Michael and Christine and her ex-selfish girlfriend Susannah.
The main reason I wanted to read the book was it’s clever location: Little Sister Island, somewhere near the Maine coastline and what would be the reasons a person living in a big city like Philadelphia would move into the middle of nowhere. I loved the idea and all the outcomes of the storyline.
Kathleen Halloran decided to leave Philadelphia and her girlfriend of 14 years, Susannah and move to Little Island into her grandmother’s house. The decision was not taken at a leap of faith, but when her grandmother has died. She left her girlfriend Susannah after 14 years, as the later never had the courage to tell the truth about their relationship to her parents and kind of used Kathleen, as she knew she loved less. Kathleen could work as a remote book editor from Little Island.
Kathleen has spent her childhood vacations on Little Island with her family, her father Michael, her Mother Christine and her brother Brian at her grandmother Maisie’s house. Their world ended when Brian drowned after a challenge between him and Molly’s brother, Aidan. They never returned to Little Island and Kathleen has never celebrated a birthday in her parent’s home and was totally ignored by her parents afterwards.
As an adult, Kathleen has never forgiven herself to have never come back to see her grandmother before her death, because of her father’s anger, as he was blaming his own mother for the death of his son.
On Little Island, Kathleen isn’t offered a lot of hospitality at first, because none believed she would stay. Yet, her new neighbours, ex teacher and her sister: Olivia and Louisa made her feel at home with their warmth and never closing their front door. And of course, Blossom, her adopted stray dog.
Molly helped out with works around the house and somehow Kathleen felt safe around her, also because she was the part time Sheriff of the island.
One by one, the islanders welcome Kathleen into their community, because, afterall, she was one of them, she had family roots within the First Ones on the island (Irish and Native Ameriacan ancestors).
Altogether, her growing attraction to Molly and the closeness to the Coopers, who are a warm, tender, loving family, give Kathleen strength to fight her demons related with Brian’s death and her struggle to confront her parents, especially her father.
Molly Cooper returned to Little Island after graduating college, as she missed her loving family and the island, which was a magnet that attracted her to it, a part of her soul.
She did handy works around the island, especially helping the elder and she helped her father and her brothers to repair boats. Also, she was the part time Sheriff of Little Island.
She was also the one who kept her brother Aidan out of trouble, as he has drunk most of the time, never forgiving himself for Brian’s death (Kathleen’s brother).
She didn’t have time for love affairs and she didn’t find the right woman for a long term relationship. That changed when Kathleen Halloran returned to the island. She never expect Kathleen to stay nor trusted her growing attraction to her, but as time passed by and Kathleen adapted and even more was loving the islanders and the island itself, become an islander herself.
I loved her passion for rowing.
She loved her life here and everything and everyone around it.
When their idyllic life is threatened, all the islanders become one, as the First Ones did at their time and fight back, embedding Kathleen among them for good.
I loved their acceptance for LGBT individuals.
I loved the historical idea about Little Island. All the ceremonies for each significant moment in an islander’s life: birth, marriage, death was celebrated in their own way, embedding islanders with their history. Also, the condition to be an islander is terrific: houses were not for sale, but they were inherited by the family on matrilineal heritage or by other families, but they had to be from the island. They never cut wood from the island, as they cared about their surroundings and for the future of the island for their own offsprings. They lived from tourism and fishing.
It was a truly beautiful read, with an amazing story line and beautiful characters.
Quotes from the book:
“The only sound was the crackling of the fire as Molly absorbed this confession.”I can’t believe you said that,” she said at last. “What?” Kathleen’s expression when she turned was guarded, wary.”Whom. You said whom. Who says whom?”‘
I think loving someone is one of the bravest things anyone ever does. Taking the chance of being hurt. Letting yourself need someone else, knowing how hollowed out you’d be if they weren’t in your life. What’s braver than that?”‘
“This doesn’t involved more blood, does it?” Molly smiled. “Actually, it does.”