Kate Morton’s The Lake House is a wonderful doorstop of a historical mystery to lose yourself in. It begins in 1933, where teenage Alice Edevane’s idyllic summer is marred by the disappearance of her baby brother Theo. “Back when it first happened she’d considered confessing,” states the first page, and the content of this confession forms the bulk of the mystery for most of the novel.
Flash forward to 2003, where police detective Sadie Sparrow is on enforced leave due to a lapse in judgement at work, and is staying with her grandfather in Cornwall, at the same town in which Alice grew up. Restless, Sadie stumbles upon the unsolved mystery of Theo’s disappearance, and decides to reopen the case. Alice is now a mystery novelist in London, and very reluctant to have her family’s history dredged up.
I love the beautiful way in which Morton interweaves the past and the present in this novel. The mystery of Theo’s disappearance drives the plot, but it’s really the interlocking stories of Alice’s family members that propels the story forward. Alice isn’t the only one with something to hide, and as Sadie digs deeper into the case, other family secrets come to light.
Morton has a lovely way of writing, and manages to cast a very old-timey feel to the historical parts of the narrative. The subplot of Sadie’s career and the case that forced her to go on leave in the first place felt jarring in contrast, and while it all came together in the end, part of me wanted to remain with Alice and her family’s story.
The ending tied things together a little too well, in my opinion, and took the entire novel down a notch or two. In Morton’s desire to obfuscate the circumstances behind Theo’s disappearance, she piled on the revelations and plot twists. The final big reveal in particular was just too big a coincidence to swallow.
That being said, I did enjoy this book a lot, and I found it wonderfully easy to lose myself in the dramas surrounding the Edevane family.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.