I was so pleased to have received this early proof copy from Rosie at Mantle Books (Pan Macmillan). I have long been a fan of Kate Morton, “The Lake House” and “The Distant Hours” being amongst my favourite books of all time.
The dramatic events of a summer in 1862 are at the centre of the book and we are also brought in to the present 150 years later. We are acquainted with a voice from the past who is (as we later discover) the clockmaker’s daughter and are then introduced to Eloide Winslow in present day London.
Being a Londoner myself I loved the atmosphere that was created almost immediately with close attention paid to details such as the new trainline being built across London. I especially enjoyed the mentions of places in the Kings Cross/Euston area (my old place of work) making me feel like I was right in the thick of the action.
Eloide’s character and background is introduced gradually throughout the book but the discovery she makes at the start immediately sets up the plot progression. The history which she is drawn into and the investigations she does to get there demonstrates clearly the research and imagination Kate has put into this.
There is a whole history of characters, times and dates that Eloide discovers which are integral to the whole plot. You start to slowly see the link between the past and present and then suddenly we are introduced to the character of Ada Lovegrove, somewhere in the past. ( I’m curious about this name as I have since found out that there was a lady called Ada Lovegrove in the 1800s who emigrated from London to Kate’s homeland of NZ!)
I thought this was really cleverly done as it’s surprising at first to suddenly be in the head of a different character. However, straightaway you get caught up in her story too. This then develops further to multiple voices across time, telling this magnificent story. The cleverly written connections between them and events that transpire make the plot all the more dramatic and enthralling and it is something Kate is very good at in all her books.
The mystery that lurks in the background keeps you captivated, compelling you to keep reading and find out more. The house that Eloide is constantly drawn to at the beginning, becomes the central location. The place where all the secrets, events and lives of these many characters, merge.
There are also minor characters that flit in and out of the narrative and again I thought it was so well done. The character of “Pale Joe” for example appears on just a few pages but he has a pivotal place in the plot. The sad and tragic parts of the some of these characters lives are heartbreaking and stay with you.
I had high expectations of this book and I was not disappointed. It is atmospheric, full of suspense and drama, and very cleverly written. The characters are complex and vulnerable, endearing the reader to their plights. The attention paid to each time period and the vast times spans across generations is really well written.
I would thoroughly recommend this book. It is a saga full of mystery, love and heartbreak- scattered with moments of joy, promise and long-awaited redemption for the characters you will come to love. It’s not all neatly tied up with a bow in the conclusion and I really like that. You are left to imagine what lies beyond the finishing pages.
So, in conclusion, when this book comes out on the 20th September in the UK, you need to go out and buy it!
(More details are here.)
Until next time,