Synopsis: In 1933 Cornwall, baby Theo goes missing on the eve of a lavish party. In 2003 London, Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow has been placed on leave due to issues with a missing persons case, and she heads to Cornwall to visit family and stumbles across the mystery of Theo’s disappearance in 1933. She tries to enlist the help of popular procedural crime writer, A.C. Edevane, who is Theo’s sister, to solve Theo’s disappearance.
Review: I’ve been anxiously waiting for this book to be released, as I will read anything that Kate Morton writes – she is one of my favorite authors. Her book The Forgotten Garden is one of my Top Ten Favorite Books, with The Distant Hours also being one of my favorites as well. So, my expectations were very high for this book, and all in all, it’s a good book, a great book really, but it just didn’t hit me the way her others did. With that being said however, I could not put the book down and was invested in the characters and the mystery.
The Lake House jumps around between 1911, 1914, 1932, 1933, and 2003 in Cornwall and London. In the earlier years, the story focuses on the Edevane family, a wealthy family whose main residence is called Loeanneth (“lake house” in Cornish) in Cornwall. It is a stunning house – Kate Morton has a true gift for being able to describe scenery. She excels at writing atmosphere. I immediately felt transported to Loeanneth, I could envision it, I could even feel the chill in the air, and smell the countryside as I was reading. There is a scene where in 2003, Sadie Sparrow comes across the abandoned house, and it is a beautiful scene. As I was reading, the scene at the beginning of the movie Titanic kept coming to me. The one where they are visiting the wreckage, and they send the camera down, and as it wanders past the sunken ship, you hear the tinkle of the piano, you hear the clink of glasses, you get glimpses of the grandeur that has now fallen. This kind of back and forth between past and present is really lovely to read.
So, back in 1933, on the eve of an annual party for Midsummer Eve, baby Theo goes missing. Was he kidnapped? Was he murdered? Did he wander away? Another suspicious event is that a very close family friend’s body is discovered shortly after Theo’s disappearance, and his death is ruled a suicide. There are many questions, and after not getting any answers, Theo’s family moves away from Loeanneth and never returns. Theo’s family consists of parents Anthony and Eleanor, grandmother Constance, and his sisters Deborah, Alice, and Clementine. Alice grows up to become famous procedural crime author, A.C. Edevane.
In 2003, the focus shifts to Sadie Sparrow, a detective constable in London, who is on leave due to some issues with a current missing persons case, the Bailey case. I have to say that the Bailey case was not all that interesting to me. I do understand why the Bailey case was put in the book, and really, there isn’t a whole lot of attention placed on that case, which is good because I just didn’t care about it. Sadie leaves London, goes to Cornwall, and comes across the abandoned Loeanneth one day and discovers the unsolved mystery of baby Theo. I liked Sadie, but she’s fairly generic in terms of character. Sadie tries to contact A.C. Edevane and ask her questions about Theo, but she is ignored. The character of Alice Edevane (A.C. Edevane) was great. I really enjoyed her character, and also that of Peter, her assistant. Alice is tough, and strong, and set in her ways, and there is a sadness there that drew me in. Another character that I really loved was Eleanor, the mother. I feel that Eleanor is the true heart and soul of the book, and her story is so interesting and moving. The subject of a popular children’s book, Eleanor is forced to grow up very quickly due to WW1 and its effects on the people around her. There is a wonderful theme throughout of childhood vs adulthood, and it is a theme that really resonated with me, and there is one quote that may be one of the best that I’ve read in quite some time.
“A person never forgets the landscape of their childhood”.
There are brief snippets of original fairy tales in this book, and they are really fun. The ending is predictable (so much so that I exclaimed out loud how ridiculous it was) BUT, even though predictable, it is enjoyable, and all the loose ends are tied up, which is great. I really hate it when you don’t get all your questions answered. I think it would be really wonderful if we got a sequel – or not necessarily a sequel, but maybe the launch of a mystery series with Sadie investigating, and the peripheral characters involved. I think it could be a fun series.
Bottom Line: A great book, with intriguing characters and a mesmerizing plot. Predictable, but fans of Kate Morton and mysteries where the “why” is as important as the “who” will love it.
You might like to read:
- Anne Perry’s mysteries: Anne Perry really writes some wonderful mysteries. I enjoy her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt books and also the William Monk books. Set in Victorian London, they deal with social and political matters and she really sets up wonderful mysteries to solve.
- Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series – Maisie worked as nurse in WW1, and after the war becomes a private investigator. Set in the time period between the wars, this series is haunting and informative. Read my review of the latest in the series, A Dangerous Place, here.
- The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt – This book is very long, but I really enjoyed it, certainly much more than Possession (which was one of the rare occasions where I enjoyed the movie more than the book).
- And of course, Kate Morton’s other books. My favorites are The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours. Her other two The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper are excellent as well.
Added to my own To Be Read stack:
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – This book is mentioned multiple times in The Lake House and I’ve never read this book, but really need to. I think I’m going to make this one of my Reading Goals for 2016.
- Keats’ poetry – another book where Keats’ poetry is mentioned. The universe is telling me to read it!
- Some Agatha Christie – yep, I’ve never ever read any of her books. I’ve got a bunch that I’ve gotten over the years, so I hope to get to these eventually. I do read a lot of mysteries, so it’s odd I’ve never started on these, but some day!
- Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy about trauma after the First World War. I’ve got these three books already, Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road, but haven’t ever read them.
6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton”
Oooooh! Can hardly wait to read this one now!
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It’s definitely more of a traditional mystery than her other books. I couldn’t put it down!
Have now read The Lake House. Loved the characters, and the way the story is told from so many different points of view. The mystery was great until the very end when, in a bizarre twist, the author made the whole story so trite I wanted to hurl. How disappointing. I suggest you read until almost the end, then quit. 😢
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Yes, that predictability was disappointing. But the book was beautifully written – I just love the way she writes!! I am really rooting for a Sadie Sparrow Investigates spin-off mystery series though. Great setting, great characters, it could really be a fun series!! Hopefully A.C. Edevane can come up with endings that surprise.