The Lake House by Kate Morton

When I saw the author Rosalie Ham speak earlier this year, she mentioned that she never reads novels while she is writing one – the reason being, she becomes highly attuned to structure and spots plot tricks everywhere. She used the example of a novel beginning with a husband making mention that he loves his wife – Ham’s first thought is “Well, she’ll be dead by the end of this book!”

I was reminded of Ham’s comment as I slogged through 593 pages of Kate Morton’s The Lake House. It’s a dual mystery, yo-yoing between the 1930s and 2003 – there’s lots of complicating family secrets and missing (possibly dead) people. With Ham’s words in the back of my mind, Morton’s mentions of this, that and the other* were like beacons, alerting me to exactly how things would play out.

The story opens in the 1930s, at a large estate in Cornwall. Morton’s descriptions of the house, the garden and the family as they prepare for a grand Midsummer’s Eve party were appealing however things quickly stalled.

In short (and I’ll keep it short as the book was so wretchedly long), The Lake House was too contrived; had far too many convenient parallels between the heroines of the 1930s story and the 2003 story; had a stupid number of coincidences; had too many words; and had a ludicrous ending that made me mutter “For God’s sake…”. I may have also rolled my eyes (hard) and done a few loud, huffy sighs.

2/5 Sorry Morton fans, it wasn’t for me.

*notably, I was onto the Ben and Theo plot lines from the beginning.

I received my copy of  The Lake House from the publisher, Atria Books, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

There was approximately one million cups of tea consumed by the characters in The Lake House. Some of these were accompanied by Bertie’s famous pear cake.


As part of the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge, I’m comparing the Belfast summer and Melburnian winter – the results for the day I finished this book (July 11): Belfast 10°-17°, Melbourne 11°-14°.

14 responses

  1. Pingback: 20 Books of Summer (except that it’s winter) | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

  2. I agree with you that the contrivances of plot along with Morton’s trademark wrapped-in-a-pretty-bow ending were a bit much for this reader, but I gave the novel a higher rating because her prose are better-than-average…and I awarded Kate a point for the book jacket publicity shot, where she’s wearing bangs like it’s nobody’s business, cut straight across, touching her upper eyelashes, without blinking at the camera.

    • Must admit that I have said to my hairdresser that in my next life I want to come back with very straight, thick hair that can pull-off the straight long fringe!

  3. I really wanted to read this, but I decided that after reading something like three of Morton’s other books that I’d just be rereading those (if that makes sense). She does have a formula and she sticks to it – obviously it works for her, but it’d be nice to see her change things up a bit. But hey, if it sells then make the most of it I guess.

  4. Ha… you know I actually got to only about 15% of this before I set it aside. I kind of attributed it to me just not being in a historical fiction sort of mood? But I think you might be on to something. It was a bit contrived.

  5. I tend to agree with you on this one, but I go into a Morton book trying to pretend I haven’t read her others – which is easy enough because her books fall right out of my head. She’s almost best enjoyed as a one time experience. I liked this one more than you did and recommend it for general mystery lovers, but I can barely tell you the plot anymore.

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