By Ekta R. Garg
October 21, 2015
Genre: Women’s fiction
Rated: Bookmark it!
A young detective on temporary leave discovers the ruins of a home and stumbles into a family mystery decades old. An author miles away enjoys the fame gathered by the efforts of her novels but feels scattered by the heartbreaking mystery. The mystery of her family. The detective wants to investigate; the author fears what the detective might find. Author Kate Morton offers readers this storyline in the lushly detailed novel The Lake House.
Sadie Sparrow has come to Cornwall from London for an enforced vacation. A hasty decision in a case has led Sadie’s superiors to think a little time off will help her clear her head. She decides to use the forced time off to visit her grandfather who has recently moved to Cornwall.
Sadie owes her life to him and her late grandmother. A stupid mistake in her teens brought Sadie to a crossroads with her own parents who threw her out of the house. Her grandparents, up until then strangers, took her in and showered her with the love, patience, and grace that she needed. Since then Sadie has accepted her grandparents as her parents by proxy.
Her grandmother’s death sits deeply in her heart as it does her grandfather’s, so she knows this time together will be good for both of them. But Sadie isn’t used to so much free time on her hands, and she starts exploring the grounds around her grandfather’s new home. One day on a walk she almost literally falls into the ruins of a home, and her detective instincts kick in when she sees the grandeur of the house.
She finds out the house belonged to the Edevane family, once the high society benchmark of the Cornwall area. People looked to the family as a gold standard and especially to the family’s grand summer parties as the high point of the year. That’s why when the Edevanes’ young son, Theo—less than a year old—goes missing the night of the annual party, the family’s devastation only gets matched by the way they leave the home. When Sadie finds it decades later, she swears someone will enter the room in just a moment. The family, she supposes, must have just walked out the front door and not looked back.
Meanwhile, in present day London, Alice Edevane has forced herself to leave the painful memories of that night and that summer behind. A storyteller from her childhood years, Alice has become a celebrated and well-known author. Her mystery novels draw high praise from readers all over; only Alice knows the motivation for crafting such compelling mysteries comes from the fact that she could never deconstruct the most haunting mystery of all. Worse, she feels partially responsible for Theo’s disappearance. She remains a recluse, communicating with the world only through her novels and correspondence.
Eager to prove to herself that she still has the sharp skills of a detective, Sadie makes it her mission to crack the Edevanes’ case. So what if she left behind a case in London that still bothers her? She can solve this. She must solve this. No matter that Alice Edevane ignores her requests for a meeting. Sadie is determined not to let her past and her mistakes keep her from getting this one right.
Author Kate Morton’s prose brings Cornwall and England to life. Readers will settle into her lush narrative like settling into a warm blanket on a cold winter day. The mystery she builds, too, about the Edevanes will keep readers moving through the pages at a brisk pace, and Sadie’s successes and failures as she chases lead after lead in the Edevane case will make readers cheer and groan by turns.
Morton nests mysteries inside of one another with a deft touch. The mystery of Theo’s disappearance caps a summer where Alice’s mother has dealt with the mystery her husband has become after returning from the war. The mystery of the case that acts as the catalyst for Sadie’s leave of absence segues into the mystery of the Edevanes as well as the murky details of Sadie’s past and just why both cases mean so much to her.
The only weak spot in an otherwise tight novel comes in the ending, which feels a touch rushed and a little too fairy tale-ish. Given the depth of suffering the characters endure, however, readers will probably have no trouble forgiving Morton the serendipity of the climactic events.
I recommend readers Bookmark The Lake House.
(I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.)