Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House
by Kate Morton
Release Date: October 20, 2015
2015 Atria Books
Ebook Edition; 512 Pages
ISBN: 978-1451649321
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from HFVBT

4 / 5 Stars

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.

My Thoughts
The Lake House is one of those books that had almost everything in it that I enjoy in certain mystery novels: the abandoned house, the missing child, secrets, tragedy, guilt, mistakes, and of course, the big mystery that hadn't been solved for seventy years.   While I'm not sure if I enjoyed it as much as some of her other books, the story was still intriguing, if a bit too pat, and the twists and turns actually made me second-guess myself a couple of times as to what actually happened to Theo.

I didn't mind the alternating viewpoints, jumping back and forth between the 1930s and 2003.  While most of the chapters were written from Sadie and Alice's POV, it was nice once in a while to hear from Eleanor, Peter, and Anthony.  In fact, I would have liked a bit more information on Anthony as I teach history and am fascinated by the accounts of PTSD from WWI, although it was called Shell Shock during this time period, and would have liked to learn more about his thoughts and feelings.  I am also surprised that Eleanor was able to keep his medical condition a secret from his family as Alice was pretty sharp and seemed to know a lot about what was happening around her; it doesn't seem to fit her character that she wouldn't have known a bit about it, curious person that she was, and I didn't quite buy it.  Alice was one of my favourite characters in this novel; I just loved her sarcasm and her personality.  She grew up feeling quite guilty, thinking she knew what had happened to Theo and it's always hard when you discover you are wrong all along; having your illusions shattered is never an easy thing, for anyone.  

While the story is quite interesting, with quite a few twists and turns, it still has that familiar ring to it as if you had already read it before.  There was nothing really revelatory in this novel, and to be honest, most of it was quite easy to pick out what happened; there was only one event that I misread completely and I was completely happy to do so as I love being misdirected by an author.  Although the novel did have that comforting feel of having been done before, I still enjoyed it quite a bit and thought the characters were quite interesting.  Because the POVs do jump around quite a bit, you don't get a real sense of a character's development, but I liked how everything intertwined and connected.  That being said however, while I liked the ending, I did think it was a bit too easily concluded and too pat.  I think I would have liked something a bit more dramatic, not necessarily tragic, but something a bit less coincidental?  

The Lake House is an enjoyable mystery with characters I really liked.  The psychological aspect to the story surprised me a bit and I wish a bit more time had been spent on those issues in here as they were quite interesting; the guilt, the remorse, the feelings of being trapped in something by yourself and by others, the impact of secrets on people's psyches, the strength of family bonds, the role of sight and memory, and the trauma (PTSD). As always, I loved the setting of the old house and the secrets that it held; it's always a good way to get my attention.  Even though I felt the ending was too coincidental and rushed, and Sadie's own investigation was too easily solved, I do feel like this is the beginning of a new series, something to do with Sadie and private investigations?  If so, I'm totally on board with that and can't wait to see what comes next.