At rare times in my life, I have encountered a book that changed the way I think about some things. Maybe you’ve experienced it – the kind of book that leaves a mark on your soul and keeps you thinking long after the last page is turned. I love those rare times, and they always catch me by surprise.
Such was my experience with “The Lake House”. I love this book so much, I’m afraid I will not do it justice in a review. It is simply wonderful. As soon as I get a little extra money, I’m buying a hard cover for my library.
The novel is set in Cornwall, England at a beautiful family estate – the kind every child dreams of exploring. It reminded me of the setting in a book I loved to read as a child called “Stone Gables”. The Cornwall estate featured a beautiful lake, dense woods, a garden with a glider, a house with fun nooks and crannies to find.
The story revolves around the Edevane family, and the mystery of their 11-month-old child’s disappearance without a trace during a Midsummer party in 1933. The family is heartbroken, and each member carries his or her own guilt, grief and questions, years after the event.
Seventy years after the child’s disappearance, a young police detective (Sadie) comes into town for a stay with her grandfather and discovers “Loeanneth”, the mysterious abandoned family estate and learns of the story of a missing child; a case closed, but never solved. Intrigued, she picks up the trail, long gone cold, and starts asking questions from the few remaining people who were there when the original investigation ensued.
As Sadie pulls at the threads on the case, she wrestles with her own unresolved secrets from the past. Elements of the story bring up memories and situations that she must find the courage to face in her own life.
The characters in the story are rich, complex, and relatable. Eleanor Edevane, the mother of the missing child, is a strong and wonderful character; possibly my favorite. While not a person, another “character” is thematic in the book; a children’s book; and its magical story is wonderfully woven into the larger story. There are as many layers to contemplate in this book as places to explore in Loeanneth.
The writing style is one that I love and I wrote down several words and phrases I want to remember. Here is a description of Alice Edevane, the missing child’s sister at the age of eighty-six, from the perspective of her fresh-college-graduate assistant:
“Alice’s constitutional acerbity had been challenging at first. Peter had spent the first month of his employment convinced he was on the brink of being let go, before coming to understand it was just part of her nature, a sort of humor, scathing at times but never really nasty.”
So wonderfully descriptive, a style that is rock-solid throughout the book.
The Lake House is nearly 500 pages long, but it does not feel long. In the beginning chapters, you are picking up the disparate threads of the story that are woven tighter and tighter, the more chapters you read. You have to give it a few chapters to fully get into the story, and it is so worth it.
The story has some themes in it that strike close to home for me, so much that I shed many tears in the end. I would love to delve deeper into why, but I can’t give too much away (if I may add a bit to the mystery J).
This is a don’t-miss book; not only is it a page-turning mystery with a setting akin to a Thomas Kinkade portrait, it is an important story to read. The portrayals of family ties, love and commitment are thought-provoking and beautifully poignant.
Rating: 5 stars
About the Author: Kate Morton is an Australian author and lives in London. She is truly a master of her craft. She’s written several award winning books (which I can’t wait to read), including “The Forgotten Garden”, “The Secret Keeper”, and “The Distant Hours”. She originally started her training in theatre, but later realized that she was more in love with the words and stories of theatre than the acting, and began writing her own stories (see her bio here).