Published by Atria Books
Publication date: October 20th 2015
Kate Morton has become one of my most reliable go-to authors—when I start a book of hers I know I can count on full immersion and enjoyment and her latest, The Lake House is no exception. Alice is a renowned mystery novelist and yet, she herself has been dealing with the consequences of a mystery her entire adult life. Sadie Sparrow is a British police detective and she too has been dealing with the fall out of a mystery. For both, the victim in these mysteries is a child, but for Alice the events occurred back in 1933 when she was sixteen years old.
Alice and her family live on their estate, Loeanneth. It is seemingly an idyllic childhood with two parents wildly in love with each other and their children. By the time Alice is sixteen she has already determined she wants to be a writer and has written her first novel in the notebook that accompanies her everywhere. It is about the kidnapping of a young child. When Theo, her little brother, is lost the line between fact and fiction is blurred. For Sadie, in 2003 it is not a child who disappears, but her mother. In what appears to be abandonment Sadie is the only person who suspects foul play. When she crosses the line to prove her beliefs she finds herself put on administrative leave, and goes to stay in the small town near Loeanneth. She comes across the abandoned house and, intrigued and bored, begins digging into the disappearance of Theo Edevane, seventy years after it occurred.
There is a lot going on in The Lake House but Morton builds the story with such care that there is no chance of plot fatigue. This is largely due to her finesse in filling in the backstory of her characters in a way that resonates. This is particularly true of the relationship between Alice’s parents, Anthony and Eleanor. If seen only through the eyes of their children they fall into the somewhat stereotypical roles of parenthood, but in Morton’s prose the emotion of their early years evokes young love in such a powerful way that makes their later choices and actions understandable. This same depth provides perspective into each character in the book.
While the mysteries may be the crux of The Lake House, Morton moves well beyond them to encompass themes of love, family relationships, friendship, guilt, aging, and war and does so in a way that is both intelligent and sympathetic. For some, these are themes too often done by Morton but, for me, that she does so in a way that continues to hold my interest negates any shortcomings. There is plausibility to the mysteries as they unfold and if, at the end, the final mystery stretches this a bit thin; it is still not enough to negate the pleasure found in the lives and their telling on the previous pages. The Lake House is a novel that cannot be stopped once started and provides entertainment until it is finished.