One of People magazine’s Best Books of Fall—“Morton's moody, suspenseful latest is the perfect page-turner for a chilly night.”
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.
The rain was heavy now and the hem of her dress was splattered with mud. She’d have to hide it afterwards; no one could know that she’d been out.
Clouds covered the moon, a stroke of luck she didn’t deserve, and she made her way through the thick, black night as quickly as she could. She’d come earlier to dig the hole, but only now, under veil of darkness, would she finish the job. Rain stippled the surface of the trout stream, drummed relentlessly on the earth beside it. Something bolted through the bracken nearby, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t stop. She’d been in and out of the woods all her life and knew the way by heart.
Back when it first happened, she’d considered confessing, and perhaps, in the beginning, she might have. She’d missed her chance, though, and now it was too late. Too much had happened: the search parties, the policemen, the articles in the newspapers pleading for information. There was no one she could tell, no way to fix it, no way they would ever forgive her. The only thing left was to bury the evidence.
She reached the place she’d chosen. The bag, with its box inside, was surprisingly heavy and it was a relief to put it down. On hands and knees, she pulled away the camouflage of ferns and branches. The smell of sodden soil was overwhelming, of wood mouse and mushrooms, of other moldering things. Her father had told her once that generations had walked these woods and been buried deep beneath the heavy earth. It made him glad, she knew, to think of it that way. He found comfort in the continuity of nature, believing that the stability of the long past had the power to alleviate present troubles. And maybe in some cases it had, but not this time, not these troubles.
She lowered the bag into the hole and for a split second the moon seemed to peer from behind a cloud. Tears threatened as she scooped the dirt back, but she fought them. To cry, here and now, was an indulgence she refused to grant herself. She patted the ground flat, slapped her hands against it, and stomped down hard with her boots until she was out of breath.
There. It was done.
It crossed her mind that she should say something before she left this lonely place. Something about the death of innocence, the deep remorse that would follow her always; but she didn’t. The inclination made her feel ashamed.
She made her way back quickly through the woods, careful to avoid the boathouse and its memories. Dawn was breaking as she reached the house; the rain was light. The lake’s water lapped at its banks and the last of the nightingales called farewell. The blackcaps and warblers were waking, and far in the distance a horse whinnied. She didn’t know it then, but she would never be rid of them, those sounds; they would follow her from this place, this time, invading her dreams and nightmares, reminding her always of what she had done.
This reading group guide for The Lake House includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours comes an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.
One Midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace, a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone . . . yet more present than ever.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The structure of this novel lies in recreating different time periods in Cornwall and London—in the early 1930s and in 2003. Do you feel that the author was successful in moving the reader between the historical and more contemporary times?
2. Thinking about the stories and histories in The Lake House, what themes were most interesting to you?
3. The Lake House is the English translation of Loeanneth, the house’s Cornish name. Have you read other novels in which a house features within the text as vital and alive, almost as if it is another character in its own right?
4. The main female characters, Sadie, Alice, and Eleanor are all strong women with flaws. Is this the way you saw them? Did their imperfections allow you to identify or sympathize with one more than another? If so, why do you think that was?
5. Sadie Sparrow’s job as a detective and Alice’s bestselling crime-writing career has allowed an interesting incursion of the crime genre into The Lake House’s gothic mystery genre. Were you aware of this in your reading?
6. Both World War I and II have tragic and far-reaching effects on the characters and narrative of The Lake House. Discuss.
7. Mysteries, twists, family secrets, carefully placed red herrings, and unexpected revelations are now compelling traditions in Kate Morton’s novels. What parts of the novel were key to your enjoyment of the story?
8. The author poses the often complex question of what moral obligation each character has to another within their particular stories. Were decisions made within the novel with which you disagreed? Or could you see yourself making similar decisions?
9. After Sadie stumbles upon Loeanneth, she’s drawn to it, returning daily and “no matter which way she headed out on her morning run, she always ended up in the overgrown garden.” (p. 135) What is it about Loeanneth that intrigues Sadie? Why do you think she dives head first into solving the mysteries of the estate?
10. What did you think of Eleanor when you first encountered her? Did your feelings about her change? In what ways and why?
11. Many reviewers have praised Kate Morton’s writing, particularly the way she reveals family secrets. What family secrets were revealed in The Lake House? Did you find any particularly shocking? Which ones and why?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Kate Morton has cited Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood as the book that most influenced her to become a writer, saying “when I look at the books I write now, I can see her lingering influence.” Read The Enchanted Wood with your book club and discuss it within the context of The Lake House. Do you see the influence of Blyton’s writing in The Lake House? Do the books have anything in common? If so, what?
2. With its hidden secrets and the sprawling estate, The Lake House has a cinematic feel to it. Would you like to see it as a film? Discuss who your casting choices would be with your book club.
3. To learn more about Kate Morton, read her blog, learn more about her other books and participate in the readers forums, visit her official site at http://katemorton.com/.
Kate Morton is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Her books are published in 34 languages and have been #1 bestsellers worldwide. She is a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature. She lives with her family in London and Australia.
"Morton's moody, suspenseful latest is the perfect page-turner for a chilly night." -- People Magazine The Best Books of the Fall (The Lake House)
"..a rich and almost magical good old-fashioned tale...a fabulous addition to her work...whisks the reader away into another world...The Lake House is the perfect read for cold, dark nights" Ft. Worth Star Telegram(The Lake House)
– Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"Skillful, suspenseful, surprising...a perfect read for ...dark winter evenings...Morton is a master of suspense" The Philadelphia Inquirer(The Lake House)
– The Philadelphia Inquirer
"..a stunning, well-woven mystery that will keep readers hooked through myriad twists and turns. There are secrets within secrets in this story, and every time readers think they've figured it out, something new will be revealed." -- San Diego Book Review(The Lake House)
– San Diego Book Review
"Compelling...Morton's plotting is impeccable, and her finely wrought characters...are as surprised as readers will be by the astonishing conclusion." -- Publisher's Weekly * (The Lake House)
– Publisher's Weekly
"Brilliant...delivers the satisfactions of all her bestsellers since debuting with The House at Riverton...perfect books for just about every reader." -- Library Journal(The Lake House)
– Library Journal
"In the latest from Morton, secrets from the past come to light in the present, a theme that is the author’s specialty…. Missing babies, maternal sacrifice, and secrets, secrets, secrets—Morton offers generous clues, only to peel back deeper layers just when the truth seems close…not short on heart-wrenching choices and rich characters." -- Booklist(The Lake House)