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?
I'm really pleased to welcome you to the BLOG TOUR for The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas which was published by Black Swan/Transworld on 19 November. I was honoured to receive a very early copy of The Secret by the Lake and reviewed it here on Random Things back in October. This is what I said;
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.
I'm delighted to welcome Louise Douglas to Random Things today. Louise has written a wonderful guest post, she talks about how the idea for The Secret by the Lake came to her.
Over to Louise ...
The starting point for The Secret by the Lake was something that happened when I was about nine years old. My family had moved into a brand new housing estate. The estate was full of young families, there were plenty of children to play with and my friends and I spent our free time riding our bikes up and down the cul-de-sac. At the edge of the estate, where the new houses ran into the gardens of the established ones, was an abandoned old house. We used to pile our bikes outside, break in through the fence, struggle through the overgrown garden and climb int through a broken window. We thrilled and terrified ourselves hiding from one another in the house's many lonely rooms.
Something happened in the old house that summer, something dreadful that was never talked about on the new estate although everybody knew and it’s not the crime so much, but the silence that surrounded it that has haunted me ever since.
I’ve tried and tried to understand why the secret was kept by the community. Were they trying to protect the children, or one another from an unpleasant truth? Were they pretending it had never happened, that such a thing would not, could not happen so close to their lovely new homes? Was it easier to forget if it became a secret - the stuff of nightmares rather than something real?
Recently, it occurred to me that perhaps it was much simpler than that. Maybe the reason the nice young families on the estate never spoke of what happened in the old house was because they did not know how to; nothing in their lives had given them the vocabulary to describe how they felt, there was no precedent, there were no words. They were silenced by their inability to articulate.
Virginia Woolf said that “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life” finds its way into his (or her) books and I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case it’s true. The Secret by the Lake is fiction but it’s my attempt to pick apart the psychology of a real community that does not know how to talk and slowly becomes corrupted by the things it can not say.
Louise was born in Sheffield, but has lived in Somerset since she was 18. She has three grown up sons and lives with her husband Kevin. The Secret By The Lake is Louise’s sixth novel and she currently writes around her full time job.
In her spare time, Louise loves walking with her two dogs in the Mendip Hills, meeting up with her friends and she’s also an avid reader.