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1933, 2003 -An abandoned lake house holds on to the secrets of what happened one fateful night when a baby disappeared never to be seen again.
June 1933 Cornwall
A summer’s evening sitting by the lake house, a sumptuous garden, a happy family…hours later the peace shattered and a baby missing. Years later, the abandoned house still holds the secrets of what happened that night.
Eleanor and Anthony live in the gorgeous home with their children Deborah, Alice, Clemmie and baby Theo. The family seem happy, the mood idyllic, but behind the happy facade, all is not what it seems. For as the evening draws to a close, baby Theo disappears, nowhere to be found. Despite a frantic search, he has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. The family home, is never the same again and soon becomes an abandoned shrine to its sad fate.
Modern day – 2003
Sadie Sparrow returns to her Grandfather’s home in Cornwall on leave from her job as a police detective. One day she stumbles across the abandoned lake house and starts to wonder about its past. What did really happen that night and what secrets are buried in the tangled and derelict mess of the lake house? Alice Edevane, now a famous author, has spent years trying to contain the unravelling of secrets to within her novels’ plots. However she cannot escape the most intriguing case – that of her very own past.
PLACE AND SETTING
Welcome to Loeanneth, the lake house, home of the Edevane family. A sumptuous home in the gorgeous setting of Cornwall. A beautiful garden and peaceful lake, gardeners toiling in the background and a family enjoying midsummer on the lawn..
A narrow stream chattered its way across the estate, delighting in the brief sunny respite before being reeled inexorably back towards the woods, and a stone bridge, the legacy of some long ago great -uncle straddled the banks allowing access to Loeanneth.
The family estate of Eleanor Edevane and her family. This is a house and a setting that inspires fairy tales – Eleanor and the Magic Doorway – written by a family friend. Alice herself skips into the woods, imagining plotlines, characters and scenarios she wants to happen. The Lake House and its grounds are like a fairytale setting but with a dark mystery at its core.
Imagine this as a photograph – captured as a moment in time. Fast forward 70 years and the photograph is now faded, the rooms abandoned, the garden ramshackle and the secrets tucked away. The secret of a house still standing and still the only shrine to a missing baby appeals to a police detective. But the walls and gardens seem keen to hang on to what they know, the fresh air now weaving its way along its corridors, chilling what has lain within for seventy years.
The house is the centre of the story and the novel. A character in its own right, it is so beautifully and stunningly evoked that you will see the wallpaper as it fades from one chapter to the next before the flashbacks take you back to when it was vibrant, on the walls of the nursery, when the garden was lush and green, when the lake was clear and the sound of laughter and a baby gurgling in its crib rang through the air.
From the outside, a picture of happiness but the walls would tell another story entirely.
Kate Morton is that rare breed of writers for me who totally and utterly has you captivated and hanging on her every word. She weaves the many threads of two stories into a complex and intriguing tapestry of secrets, red herrings and a world which is so vivid and evocative, it’s as if you could step through the cover and see it for yourself.
The two stories, past and present wove seamlessly together although for me the story of the past was the most absorbing. What did happen that fateful midsummer night? As ever with Kate, you think you know, until the very end when you realise she’s been teasing you with something all along and you’re as lost in that big ramshackle garden as the children in the story.
The idea of going back to an old house and discovering its secrets of what happened that fateful day is captivating. Alice in the present day is a mystery to herself and I particularly loved finding all about her in flashbacks to when she was an excited teenager. Oh and Eleanor and Anthony – I gasped when I found out what was going on and the events leading up to that midsummer night. In the present day, Sadie tries to unravel it all but her own story threatens to cloud her judgement. The stories worked very well together and added a real sense of intrigue.
I was pulled and pushed in one direction after another – from 1933, back to 1911 and then back to 2003 but never once did I feel lost. The characters stories build and flow seamlessly and I particularly loved the idea that Alice was now a mystery writer and had followed her dreams. Oh to read a Diggory Brent novel now!
It’s tricky to review without giving anything away but I totally recommend this for fans of a complex, intricate mystery which will take you on a journey and immerse you in the walls of a utterly captivating Cornish lake house.