Viola Shipman is always a good reading pleasure. This novel is no exception. The only thing that changes from novel to novel is the question of how much you like it. The Clover Girls is a wonderful story about four women and their lives. You see the typical American way of life in this book with the yearly summer camp, friendship, a bit of patriotism, and many emotions. Written in a very sensitive way. Beautiful entertainment if you ask me.

Vier Frauen Und Ein See*
by Viola Shipman
Translation Anita Nirschl
Original Title The Clover Girls
Publisher Fischer Krüger on April 27, 2022
Genre Novel
Pages 412
Format Paperback
Source Fischer Krüger

Elizabeth, Veronica, Rachel, and Emily met as girls at summer camp, where for four summers they were the Clover Girls – inseparable for those magical weeks of freedom. Until small intrigues and a big betrayal tore the shamrock apart. Many years later, busy with their marriages, their children, and their careers, Liz, Veronica, and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily. She asks the three, who were once her best friends, to get together again at Camp Birchwood. A week to remember the girls' dreams of yesteryear and to heal old wounds. (Personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary).
There are only three left of what was once the Clover Girls cloverleaf. Because Emily, who once kept them all together, is dead. And she included her three best friends in her will. Relive the past together for a week at Camp Birchwood. That's all she asks for. It will be a week of ups and downs for the women and one that will bring long-buried emotions to the surface.

The novel is a wonderful cross-section of our contemporary society. The author sensitively describes how four women and their families change over time. Viola Shipman shows very clearly what mothers often are for their family and society. Everything is represented there, from the maid to the self-sacrificing mother hen to the career woman with a bad conscience. And that women are literally invisible after a certain age is the icing on the cake. What excites me so much is the fact that not only does the novel seem like it was taken from real life, but I recognized myself in many things. As if the author was holding a mirror in front of me in a fun, stylish way. In doing so, Viola Shipman keeps changing from the present of the plot to the past, which wonderfully rounds off the overall picture in the end.

Four women who couldn't be more different. They meet at summer camp during their childhood and as adults, they must realize that much of their life afterward was based on misunderstanding, wrong behavior, ignorance, and feelings of guilt. Childish ideals literally fall off their pedestals, long suppressed feelings break out and everyone realizes that they must change something. But as great as the individual characters were created, their behavior was a bit too exaggerated in some places. One is a mother who has completely given up on herself and, after more than twenty years of parenting, marriage, and work, is wondering why her children are so selfish and egotistical. The next in line fights for women's rights, but at the same time shows her contempt for her fellow women. The third of the former shamrocks has made a career at the expense of another and now faces a decision on how not only to save her marriage but also to take back control of her life.

An atmospheric novel that makes you think and shows real life in a multi-layered way. Well, it has a few weak points, but otherwise the story scores with lots of emotions and incredibly beautiful scenes. It was fascinating to watch the development of the four women, to experience how they see and evaluate their lives and how they deal with major and minor strokes of fate. Read!

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Fischer Krüger in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Der Roman ist ein herrlicher Querschnitt durch unsere heutige Gesellschaft. Die Autorin schildert auf feinfühlige Art, wie sich vier Frauen und ihre Familien im Laufe der Zeit verändern. Dabei zeigt Viola Shipman sehr klar, was Mütter für ihre Familie und die Gesellschaft oftmals sind. Da ist vom Dienstmädchen über die aufopferungsvolle Glucke bis hin zur Karrierefrau mit einem schlechten Gewissen alles vertreten. Und dass Frauen ab einem bestimmten Alter buchstäblich unsichtbar sind, ist das Tüpfelchen auf dem I. Was mich so begeistert, ist die Tatsache, dass nicht nur der Roman wie aus dem realen Leben gegriffen scheint, sondern ich mich in vielem wiedererkannte. Als ob mir die Autorin auf unterhaltsame, stilvolle Weise einen Spiegel vor die Nase hielt. Dabei wechselt Viola Shipman von der Gegenwart der Handlung immer wieder in die Vergangenheit, was das Gesamtbild am Ende wundervoll abrundet.

Vier Frauen, wie sie unterschiedlicher nicht sein könnten. Sie treffen sich im Sommer Camp während ihrer Kindheit und müssen als Erwachsene erkennen, dass vieles in ihrem Leben danach auf Missverständnissen, falschem Verhalten, Ignoranz und Schuldgefühlen basierte. Kindliche Ideale fallen sprichwörtlich vom Sockel, da brechen lange unterdrückte Gefühle auf und es wird Jeder klar, dass sie etwas ändern müssen. Aber so toll die einzelnen Figuren auch kreiert waren, mir war deren Verhalten an einigen Stellen etwas zu übertrieben. Die eine ist Mutter, die sich selbst komplett aufgegeben hat und sich nach über zwanzig Jahren Erziehung, Ehe und Beruf wundert, warum ihre Kinder so egoistisch und selbstsüchtig sind. Die nächste im Bunde kämpft für die Rechte von Frauen, zeigt gleichzeitig aber auch ihre Verachtung für ihre Geschlechtsgenossinnen. Die dritte des ehemaligen Kleeblatts hat Karriere auf Kosten einer anderen gemacht und steht nun vor der Entscheidung, wie sie nicht nur ihre Ehe retten, sondern auch wieder die Kontrolle über ihr Leben zurückgewinnt.

Ein stimmungsvoller Roman, der nachdenklich macht und das reale Leben auf vielschichtige Weise zeigt. Gut, er hat ein paar Schwachstellen, aber ansonsten punktet die Geschichte mit vielen Emotionen und unglaublich schönen Szenen. Es war faszinierend, die Entwicklung der vier Frauen zu beobachten, mitzuerleben wie sie ihr Leben sehen, bewerten und wie sie mit größeren und kleineren Schicksalsschlägen umgehen. Lesen!

*The book was published in the English language by Graydon House on May 18, 2021. 

Wade Rouse
Wade Rouse ©John Quiri

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.


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