Thursday, November 12, 2015

Book Review: The Lake House

I think when a person is writing a novel, they become highly attuned to the craft side of a novel. Kate Morton is an outstanding writer. In her novel, The Lake House, she draws the reader into the story, people's the landscape with interesting, flawed characters, and paces the plot development perfectly.

I have been thinking about these details for my own novel. I have one character who seems too perfect. She needs a character flaw to round her out and to provide some inner conflict. I have also been thinking about what it takes to reveal just enough information a bit at a time to compel the reader to stick with the story and allow the plot to develop at just the right pace. How do you blend background information effortlessly into the story without bogging it down or slowing down the story progression? How can you continue to present new evidence making the reader second guess what they had assumed about the story up to that point? These are all things a writer has to contemplate and complete.

Kate Morton has clearly contemplated these issues and completed them quite successfully. Once again, as in her only other novel I have read (The Secret Keeper - a novel I didn't like quite as much as this one), Morton skillfully weaves a tale that bounces back and forth between two time periods. Modern characters set out to understand the actions of others in the past and secrets, long buried, are slowly revealed.

Alice Edevane is a precocious, sixteen year old girl deeply in love with the gardener on her family's beautiful country house, Loeanneth. The family is preparing to celebrate a Midsummer party and Alice is preparing to present her very first manuscript to the gardener, with a dedication to him for his assistance in its creation. But by the time the evening is over, her dreams are dashed and the party comes to a tragic end, when Alice's infant brother, Theo, goes missing.

Seventy years later, Detective Sadie Sparrow has been forced to take a leave of absence and is visiting her kindly, old grandfather when she discovers the cold case of the missing baby. She has a weakness for missing babies. She longs for justice both in the case that led to her enforced leave and in the case of the missing baby from long ago. As Sadie digs deeper and deeper, she finds secrets long hidden and even a missing piece in herself.

This was a fantastic read. Although it was a sizable investment of time, given its 492 pages, the story held my interest throughout. I marveled at the writing skills revealed in the telling of this tragic tale. I've decided you can always count on a great yarn when you pick up a Kate Morton book.

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