Friday, 27 November 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Book: The Lake House

Author: Kate Morton

Pages: 593

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 6 hours

Plot Summary: Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

Things I Liked: Quite a few things: 

1. The premise. With all of Kate Morton's books, it is the premise that gets to you first. The premise is very interesting- a cold case from 1933 about a missing toddler and how a young cop in 2003 tries to piece together what happens back then by using the information that's available very smartly and creatively. What is not to love?! A mystery plus the gratification one gets from historical fiction of travelling back and forth in time! Win-win-win! 

2. I loved the panoramic view of this book. This book starts in 1933, goes back to 1911, skips ahead to 2003, goes to the WWII years at some point- so much variety and so much of each of these time periods that we get to see via various characters. I, especially, loved Eleanor Edevane's perspective and story- her life in 1911-1918 and then again in the 1930s. Kate Morton always does a great job of moving effortlessly back and forth in time, which is why she is one of my favourite historical fiction writers. 

3. The Lake House covers many interesting issues/ topics but what I enjoyed the most are the ones connected to family dynamics. Secrets and what they can do to a family is one theme that is explored in a great amount of detail in this book and I love how nuanced it is. Is it important to keep certain things that impact the whole family a secret? Isn't it risky if this secret can possibly have dangerous and violent consequences? I won't go into specifics of what this great big secret at the heart of this story was, but suffice to say that the sharp reader will figure it out. 

4. The book covers the pre-WWI era and also the years between the wars leading up to WWII. The loss of innocence, lives and the impact of WWI and WWII can be felt vividly through the lives, loves and losses of our key characters. I wish more people would read about the impact of wars and realise that no one really wins in a war- we all lose something or the other. 

5. There are several wonderful characters in this book. 

Eleanor- she comes of age in this book and we get to see her from when she was 15 right up until her untimely death- who grows from an impetuous, carefree young girl to a woman burdened with keeping her family as 'normal' and happy as she could given the secret that she is protecting. 

Alice is interesting- she comes across more as a brat (even when she is older) and a fairly immature one at that throughout the book; not much character development there. 

Anthony (Alice's dad) is also an interesting character, someone that I felt the saddest for! 

Sadie- the cop who starts digging into this cold case- is nice but I wish there was more of a focused look into her as a person; I felt that we only saw her in bits and pieces, as though we were looking at a kaleidoscope. 

Clemmie- Alice's younger sister- a spunky and tomboyish girl who later joins the Airforce's ATA unit in WWII. Would have loved to have more chapters from her perspective. 

6. The writing is pretty good- as always. You stay engaged in the book and the almost-600 pages just go by very quickly. Never a dull moment. 

7. The resolution of the mystery was pretty nicely done. All the loose ends may have been tied up a little too conveniently, but there was a nice sense of closure and many things made sense. 

What I Didn't Like: A few things...

1. While I appreciate having chapters from multiple people's perspectives- always gives a multiple-paradigm view of any situation- but why have two chapters from the perspective of a 11-month old toddler?! If he can't speak and is 11 months old, he can't really be narrating things in a book, can he!? That was a bit much! Really?!!! 

2. While the resolution of the mystery of the missing toddler and what became of him was pretty satisfactory, it was also VERY convenient! Almost predictable! I wish that was not the case. I don't want to say any more and spoil the book because this is a good book and you must read it! :) 

Rating: 4/5 
Highly recommend if you are a fan of historical fiction and love reading about complicated families and interesting family dynamics. 

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