I finally finished Kate Morton’s The Lake House just last night. I can’t tell you the number of chills I got reading it, not can I tell you whether they were chills of fear or panic or just plain pleasure. But I can tell you that this book was a pleasure to read.
It was intricate, but well planned. As a writer, I find I can tell when an author has a plan versus when she does not and I find it very distracting and far less pleasurable if the writer builds her story as she goes, but this novel was not like that and if you get to the end of the book, you’ll certainly understand why. Now, the novel is filled with twists and turns, but they are not the campy ones that tend to fill the pages of a serial novelist’s book.
Normally, I would steer clear of a book by a pop-novelist with too many books (I find it becomes formulaic and a money-making venture more than anything else) but I was drawn to this book solely by its description and, at the time, my hunger for a mystery novel. I also would keep myself far from anything with a hint of historical fiction simply because I’d rather read the real history first, and at 22 I feel I haven’t quite done enough of that, but this novel has a great deal of history in it – but rather than focusing on too many facts, Morton weaves the realities of what life was like for the men and women in the UK during the second world war and though I didn’t learn much I didn’t already know about the history, I learned about what people went through. The topic of shell shock, now known as PTSD, played a role in this novel that brought me to tears, and although pretty much anything remotely emotional can do that, it does take something emotional. Further, everyone knows how horrible the first world war was, but to get that kind of human perspective on it, so much so that it brings about an emotional response, is rare for me. I really felt that it seemed as if Morton somehow knew what she was talking about. I’ve done absolutely no research on her, so maybe it’s true that she did.
The mystery in this book is clever and enticing, keeping you on the edge of your seat without needing to have gory descriptions or the darkness that the Gillian Flynn novels that I’ve been devouring need to have to tick. Rather, it is character driven across generations of women, which is also something I like to see.
The one thing I will say is that this book can come across as a little cliched due to the voice behind it – and with a cover like that, I certainly should’ve expected cliche – which initially and at certain points throughout (through phrasing of character reactions and small things like that) can be distracting. Further, if you can’t handle a twist, whether well-planned or not (and I know a lot of people feel twists to be cheap regardless), then you’ll feel a little cheated. I enjoyed the twist though, as you have to remember it’s a mystery novel and twists and unexpected happenings are part of the deal.
I would definitely recommend this book if you like mysteries, a classic writing style, and a little bit of a feminine story (which doesn’t just have to be for female readers, might I add!).