Book Review: The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

This novel is hard to classify. It’s a mixture of genres. There are historical, mystery, thriller and romance elements. Dark events from the past break through into the present and there’s even a bit of a ghost story going on. But all the elements are perfectly blended by this experienced and talented author. So it all adds up to a very good read.

The main character is Amy. Amy having overcome her own difficult childhood, has worked in France for the past ten years as a live-in nanny. She has looked after Viviane, daughter of Alain and Julia, since her birth. Julia’s health issues mean she needs help to look after her daughter.

After Alain’s sudden death, Amy, Julia and Viviane have to go back to live in Julia’s childhood home, Reservoir Cottage, in Somerset. It is situated by the lake of the title. This uprooting proves to be a real jolt and sees a big change in circumstances for these three characters. They are immediately propelled into a ghostly, threatening and potentially deadly mystery.

The story is well-paced, beautifully descriptive and nuanced. The supporting cast contains believable and intriguing characters, including troubled farmer, Daniel, to whom Amy is strongly attracted. Even the minor cast members such as neighbour, Mrs Botham, and Amy’s dog, Bess are engaging.

Reservoir Cottage and the lake are also both characters in their own right––the cottage secretive and malevolent, the lake dark and brooding.

To avoid spoilers, I can’t really say more.

All I will say is I came nowhere near guessing the resolution of the mystery at the heart of this book.

The Secret by the Lake is a page turner and it had me hooked right away.

Type of Read: Good one for passing the time on a plane or train journey. You’ll be locked in the world of the story for the duration. But wherever you read it, you’ll be lost to the real world while you do so.

Back Cover Blurb:

A FAMILY TRAGEDY Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now. A SISTER’S SECRET But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen. A WEB OF LIES Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

The Secret by the Lake is published by Transworld and is available as a paperback, e-book and audio book.

Reading, Writing and the Rhythm of Life

 

The clocks have gone back and it’s early dark, but rather than going into hibernation I seem to be nicely busy.

There’s been reading, writing and several coffee and cake dates with friends. And I’m really looking forward to attending the latest of the Atlas Arts talks this coming Saturday. I’ve enjoyed all of the Atlas talks I’ve been to this year. It’s a great local organisation that promotes the work of artists from all over the UK. This week it will be Nicky Bird talking about her work with photography and new media. You can read more about Atlas at http://www.facebook.com/atlasartpeopleplace  or on twitter at @skyeatlas

And it’s a collage of a post this week – a book review, a round-up of how my writing’s going and a general witter on my life as a busy old bat.

First, the book review. It’s been a while since I read a proper page-turner of a novel – a book that keeps me from getting to sleep at a sensible hour. So it was lovely to discover Louise Douglas’s ‘The Secrets Between Us’. Having previously read and greatly enjoyed two other novels by this author – ‘The Love of my Life’ and ‘Missing You’, I was hoping for an equally enjoyable experience this time. I wasn’t disappointed.

With its shades of Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ this contemporary, romantic, thriller is gripping right from the start. Even although I worked out whodunnit quite a while before the end, I was still in suspense to see how it all played out. My only gripe – and it’s a small one was that the ending was a little rushed and underplayed. But I do recommend the book to fans of Du Maurier and Douglas.

As for my own writing, I seem to have got my mojo back. The creative flow has been a bit interrupted  – and even blocked –  of late, with both work and family stuff having to take priority. But I resolved during my half-term holiday from school to get back to the desk. Or, rather, to set up a new desk.

Family circumstances have meant that my little granddaughter currently has my study as a bedroom. So, I bought a laptop with a nice big screen, a set of good earphones in order to listen to music while I work and block out the noise of the TV, and I’ve set up my office on the dining-room table. And so far so good.

I’ve entered my children’s novel in the ‘Myslexia’ magazine children’s book competition. I’ve entered a reworking of the Hansel and Gretel tale in the competition being run jointly by the National Library of Scotland, Scottish Ballet and the Scotsman newspaper. I’ve written my contribution to the December issue of writing magazine, ‘Words with Jam’.

But the thing I’m most chuffed about is getting back to my partly written, second ‘grown-up’ novel. Yesterday evening, I began re-reading the 80,000 words I’ve written so far. I haven’t looked at it for a few months and I was pleasantly surprised (she says modestly). It was great to be back with the characters and get re-involved in their lives. Now I’m really looking forward to spending my evenings in the company of these people and completing the telling of their story.

I’ve also put three more competitions into my writing diary for early in the new year.

And it won’t be long before 2013 is here. I know everyone of my age finds that time whizzes past, but I suspect that living by the termly rhythm of the school year, makes the passage of time go even faster. At school we’ve just had the excitement of Halloween and bonfire night and this Friday will see staff and pupils all wearing red in honour of armistice day. Then it’s our mega fundraising day for ‘Children in Need’ with lots of Pudsey related activities –  before we career towards the Christmas concert, parties and Santa’s arrival.

Autumn is well and truly ensconced on Skye  – and winter has already run some preview trailers. The crunch and smell of fallen leaves, the woodsmoke and the early morning mists have been trumped by icy roads and pavements. Even the fireworks display had to compete with a heavy snowfall on Saturday evening to win the wow-factor contest.

I’m bracing myself for the short days and very long nights that you get this far north in December and January. But the long evenings mean plenty of time to write. There’s also the granddaughter’s first birthday to look forward to –  as well as the magic that is Christmas. And then the holidays should provide an opportunity to get engrossed in a good book – or two…

Bring it on!