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08 November 2016

The Book Club Chronicles: The Lake House

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page_1The Book Club met to discuss The Lake House by Kate Morton. Our feelings as a group can be summed up by Patty’s comment, “I wanted to stay home from work to keep reading”. Now, you may think that this isn’t saying much, but Patty actually likes her job. It’s high praise. The Lake House is our favourite book to date, a unanimous choice.

The Lake House is an ambitious story that spans 70 years and follows multiple intertwining and intersecting plots, all revolving around an old lake house in Cornwall. The house itself is an important character in the book, and is described so vividly that one can picture each scene unfolding. I loved that about the book.

The Book Club has been reading quite a few books either set in or strongly referencing both world wars, and so it was for The Lake House. The horrors of war certainly act as an undercurrent to this story. However, it is also a saga about family, friendships and love, though the discussions of these themes were driven by the plot and so were treated lightly.

A wonderful aspect of Kate Morton’s writing is her kindness to her characters. While they certainly make mistakes and have flaws, they are deeply human. Each of us liked virtually every person in the story, with three minor exceptions, all of whom played the role of a parent driving their offspring to a life change. Relationships with parents, and in particular mothers, are by nature complex, and over-simplification of this relationship would be a lazy plot device. In The Lake House, Kate Morton does use this in one thread of the intersecting story lines, but the characters in question are pretty minor. In contrast, while the “main mother” in this book seemed for awhile to be almost inexplicably difficult, Morton’s ability to ultimately provide the right amount of background and rationale for her decisions redeemed her and strengthened the character.

By midway through the book, each of us found that we had trouble putting it down, as the stories began to come together into a cohesive tale. Shar, who had not liked how the loose ends were neatly tied up in The Illegal, really liked The Lake House and didn’t object to the story lines all coming together in this case. Since I loved both books, I deferred to her opinion that Kate Morton had more successfully supported the conclusions throughout the entire book and so the tidiness did not feel contrived.

When we meet to discuss our latest book, we always enjoy a meal that reflects the setting and context of the novel we have just read. In this case, it was England in the 20th century. There were gin and tonics, sausage rolls, cucumber sandwiches, bangers & mash, salad, sweets and tea. Nice, but we agreed that our next novel would be set somewhere with more exotic food. Don’t judge – there are worse ways to choose a book to discuss. So, while we enjoyed The Lake House and some of us have sought out other Kate Morton books, next time we meet it will be to discuss a book set in India, Teatime for the Firefly. Watch for The Book Club Chronicles to include samosas with our plot lines and character development.

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