The Lake House, Kate Morton
Published October 20th 2015 by Atria Books
Hardcover, 400 pages
Source: ARC received from publisher
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.
I began reading the Lake House thinking I knew what was about to happen. I read the first pages of young Alice Edevane and flashed back to Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Cecilia her sister Briony. I thought I didn’t like Alice at all and predicted a poor little rich girl story — I was so totally wrong. Almost every expectation I had about where this plot was going was proved false and I loved every minute of it.
Alice is 16 when her baby brother Theo- the apple of everyone’s eye – disappears during a huge family party at their lake house in Cornwall. Alice lives with a lifetime of guilt for what she sees as her role in what happened to Baby Theo – as do each of her family members. When we flash forward Alice is in her 80’s and is a famous writer of police novels living in London. Her family entirely gave up their lake house after Theo’s disappearance. We next meet a real London police woman, Sadie Sparrow, who’s hiding out in Cornwall due to crisis with both her work and her personal life. Sadie picks up on the mystery of Theo Edevane rather than think about her next steps.
Sadie goes into the local library to research the Edevane family and thinks to herself she “would never have guessed in a million years that a person could gain this sort of satisfaction from a visit to the library, certainly not a person like her.” That made me giggle. I am such a book nerd that I even love it when book characters find delight in reading! Anyway, thankfully Sadie does learn to use the library and begins to dig into to history of the family, the lake house and what could have happened to baby Theo.
Morton takes the reader further back in time to the meeting and romance between Alice’s parents and their newly wedded bliss. The story moves back and forth through their early years and the life-altering War; then to Sadie’s current investigations and Alice’s own ruminations on her family. We shift perspective often between Alice to Sadie, but also to several other characters from time to time. Morton makes the changes read easily and I really enjoyed the flow between the observers and in time. The story was so much richer for all the different sides she exposes you to.
Maybe Sadie’s personal story felt a bit more contrived than that of the Edevane family – but even that didn’t distract from the overall mystery for me. I had guesses, but I definitely didn’t see the end all through. I need to start adding all of Kate Morton’s books to my library list as soon as possible! I also would really like to go to Cornwall and wander and see what kind of mysterious home I could stumble upon. It feels like it would have to happen after reading this book!
Thank you so much to Atria Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!
All quotes taken from an unfinished galley copy in advance of publication.