3 Sentence Summary
“Meet Me at the Lake” by Carley Fortune takes readers on a journey of second chances and unexpected reunions. Fern and Will’s initial encounter shapes their lives, and after a decade apart, they cross paths again at a lakeside resort. As they reconnect, Fern can’t shake the feeling that Will is hiding something, leading to a captivating exploration of secrets, love, and the complexities of balancing work and life.
Summary Read Time: Less than 7 minutes
Actual Book Length: 336
First Published in: 2023
Below is the detailed yet quick Meet Me At The Lake book summary:
The story is set in Brookbanks Resort, a family-run business nestled in the heart of Muskoka. The protagonist, Fern Brookbanks, finds herself reluctantly returning to the resort after her mother’s tragic death. She is grappling with her mother’s loss and the responsibility of running the resort.
Fern’s return to Brookbanks Resort is fraught with anxiety and trepidation. The resort, with its rustic charm and familiar settings, is a constant reminder of her mother. Fern’s mother, Margaret Brookbanks, was the heart and soul of the resort, and her sudden absence leaves a void that Fern struggles to fill. The resort’s office, a small room with pine walls and a faint whiff of Clinique perfume, serves as a poignant reminder of her mother’s presence.
Fern’s ex-boyfriend, Jamie, is the resort’s general manager. Their relationship is a complex mix of shared history, lingering affection, and professional tension. Jamie, with his flaxen curls and baby face, is a constant in Fern’s life, providing her with much-needed support as she navigates her new role. Their playful banter and shared memories add a touch of lightness to the narrative.
The story takes a turn when Fern meets a tall, handsome stranger at the resort. The man, impeccably dressed in a custom-made suit, is strangely familiar to Fern. His dark eyes and a barely visible scar on his chin trigger a flood of memories. The man is revealed to be “Will” who is from Fern’s past, adding a layer of intrigue to the story.
The narrative also delves into Fern’s past, providing glimpses of her life before she returned to the resort. Fern used to manage a trio of indie coffee shops in Toronto’s west end called Filtr. Her life in Toronto, filled with the hustle and bustle of city life, is a stark contrast to the tranquil surroundings of Brookbanks Resort.
Fern and Will’s meeting at Brookbanks is a reunion filled with tension and unresolved feelings. They had met ten years ago when Will painted a mural at the coffee shop where Fern worked. Their time together left a lasting impression on Fern, so much so that she still vividly remembers their interactions. However, their relationship took a turn for the worse when Will failed to show up for a planned meeting, leaving Fern feeling hurt and abandoned.
We also get introduced to Whitney, Fern’s best friend since grade school. Whitney’s visit to the resort adds another dynamic to the story. Their friendship, marked by shared memories and unspoken understanding, provides Fern with a sense of comfort and familiarity amidst the chaos.
Fern starts acting like an undercover agent, collecting every scrap of intel she can about Will, who is a very private person. This includes observing him while he takes private calls, which he always does away from her. Jamie, Fern’s friend, suggests that the resort needs a celebration to move on from the mourning of Fern’s mother, Maggie. Meanwhile, Fern overhears Will sounding frustrated during a conversation .
Fern is surprised to see Will, and their initial interaction is awkward and strained. Despite this, they agree to meet the next day to discuss work-related matters. Fern and Will have a heated exchange where Fern accuses Will of giving up on his dreams. Will retorts that Fern won’t admit what she wants to hold on to. This leads to a tense moment between them. She decides to stay at the resort, a decision that seems to disappoint Will. He congratulates her, but his voice is hoarse, indicating his true feelings.
Fern and Will share an intimate moment where Fern confesses her feelings for Will. This leads to a passionate encounter between them.
Fern and Will spend time with Whitney and Cam, Fern’s friends. During this time, Fern admits that she doesn’t know what’s happening between her and Will, but she knows that he’s decided to stay until the day after the dance.
Will shares with Fern that Annabel, his ex-partner, has started looking for her own place for her and their daughter, Sofia. He doesn’t want to trouble Fern with his personal issues, but Fern expresses her willingness to listen.
Will helps Fern create a one-year plan for her life, which includes not working at Brookbanks Resort and not living in Muskoka. This moment signifies a turning point in Fern’s life and their relationship.
Will sketches a portrait of Fern, capturing her in fine strokes of graphite. This intimate moment shows the depth of their connection and the growing affection between them.
Fern and Jamie are working late when Will comes to remind them about the dinner they had planned with Whitney and Cam. Fern has been working long hours and feels overwhelmed, especially after their sommelier, Zoe, resigns.
Will and Fern join Whitney and Cam for dinner. They enjoy a pleasant evening together, during which Whitney confronts Will about his plans after leaving the resort. She warns him not to hurt Fern again. Will assures her that he and Fern will discuss their future privately.
Fern avoids Whitney for a few days after the dinner, feeling annoyed by her friend’s interference. However, they eventually talk, and Whitney encourages Fern to be open about her feelings for Will. Fern is unsure, fearing that their relationship might not work out once Will returns to his life in Toronto.
Fern reminisces about a conversation she had with Will ten years ago. They had agreed to meet at the resort a year later, but Will had left abruptly, leaving Fern feeling disappointed and confused. Fern reads an entry from her mother’s diary, where her mother talks about Peter’s support during her pregnancy. This makes Fern reflect on her own situation and the support she has from her friends.
Jamie sends Fern home early one day. She spends the afternoon thinking about her feelings for Will and decides to be brave and tell him how she feels. She invites him over to her place.
Part 4 – How Does “Meet Me At The Lake” Book End?
Fern goes through her mother’s old dresses, looking for something to wear for the dance. She finds a short orange-red dress that she likes. She decides that she will wear this dress when she tells Will about her feelings for him.
Fern is nervous but determined. She wants to be a part of Will’s life and is ready to figure out how to make their relationship work, even if he lives in Toronto. She decides to tell him how she feels at the dance.
Fern’s plan to confess her feelings to Will takes a dramatic turn when she discovers Will’s sketchbook. She finds sketches of herself, including one where she’s floating in water with her arms outstretched and eyes closed. The sketches reveal Will’s feelings for Fern, leaving her emotional and overwhelmed.
In the epilogue, Fern and Will are shown to be in a committed relationship. Will moves in with Fern, and they spend their days making plans for the future. Fern is pregnant with their daughter, and she writes a journal for her, sharing stories about their friends and family, and their life together.