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 by Louise Douglas is published in paperback by Black Swan (Transworld) on 19 November 2015. The Secret by the Lake is the author's sixth novel, I have read and enjoyed all of her books, she's one of my favourite writers, her books are beautifully written and incredibly compelling and I've featured some of them here on Random Things in the past. Her previous novels are; The Love of my Life (2008), Missing You (2010), The Secrets Between Us (2011), In Her Shadow (2012) and Your Beautiful Lies (2014).
The prologue of The Secret by the Lake takes place by Blackwater lake in 1931; a young unnamed housemaid sits and gazes at a beautiful heart-shaped pendant, her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of someone approaching. The girl manages to avoid being seen by the unnamed man. This short prologue forms the basis of a story told thirty years later, and perfectly sets the scene for what is an entrancing and beautifully told story of betrayal and loss.
Moving forward, it's 1961 in Deusables, France. Amy is Nanny to Viviane Laurent. She is more than a Nanny, she is part of the family. Her own family is disjointed, her mother left when she was a small child and her father seems to care more for his pigeons than he does for her. Amy is devastated when she has to leave the Laurents and return to Sheffield to care for her ailing father.
When tragedy strikes, Amy rushes to Viviane and her mother Julia who are now living in Julia's childhood home in Somerset, at the side of Blackwater lake. The glitter and sparkle of Paris life has gone, along with their wealth and beautiful things. Life in the dark gloomy cottage is difficult, and it soon becomes clear that there are deep and sinister secrets hidden within the walls. The community is tight-knit and closed-lipped. Amy struggles to keep Julia's spirits up and Viviane has regressed back, conversing with her imaginary friend .... but is Caroline purely a product of her imagination.
The cottage and the lake are characters in themselves. Louise Douglas' writing sends chills down the spine as she describes the bleak and dreary cottage with it's closed rooms and unidentified noises. The lake consumes the story and the characters, it is central to village life and central to the plot. The vastness of the deep dark waters, the history of tragedy and pain is so well defined and gives a sinister air to the whole story.
The Secret by the Lake is multi-layered and complex. There are sudden twists and unexpected happenings throughout the story. There are moments in the book that will make the reader's heart pound in anticipation, the author expertly builds tension and fear.
Interwoven with the mystery and suspense is Amy's own gentle love story, so different, yet so closely connected to the story of lost love that emerges and is linked back to the mystery housemaid of the prologue. Louise Douglas is gentle and tender with Amy and her love interest, building their relationship gradually and masterfully.
The secrets that emerge in this book are age-old and shameful, I had many theories whilst reading the story, but the final reveal is shocking and explosive, and quite perfectly done.
Once again, Louise Douglas has produced a captivating, intelligent and beautifully written story. I became totally lost in the plot, adored the characters and feared the cottage and the lake. An absolutely superb read.
My thanks to the author, Louise Douglas who arranged for me to receive a copy for review.
Louise Douglas was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Somerset for the past twenty years.
She has three sons and a partner who works in construction.
She is the author of four novels, including The Secrets Between Us and In Her Shadow.
When she is not writing, Louise is usually reading, walking with the family's dogs, Lil and Lola, and spending time with her family and friends.
Talk to her on Twitter: @LouiseDouglas3 and visit her website at www.louisedouglas.co.uk.