The Lake House

The Lake House

by Kate Morton


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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Keeper comes a “moody, suspenseful page-turner” (People, Best Book Pick) filled with mystery and spellbinding secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451649352
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 7,280
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Kate Morton is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Her books are published in 34 languages and have been #1 bestsellers worldwide. She is a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature. She lives with her family in London and Australia.

Read an Excerpt

The Lake House


    The rain was heavy now and the hem of her dress was splattered with mud. She’d have to hide it afterwards; no one could know that she’d been out.

    Clouds covered the moon, a stroke of luck she didn’t deserve, and she made her way through the thick, black night as quickly as she could. She’d come earlier to dig the hole, but only now, under veil of darkness, would she finish the job. Rain stippled the surface of the trout stream, drummed relentlessly on the earth beside it. Something bolted through the bracken nearby, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t stop. She’d been in and out of the woods all her life and knew the way by heart.

    Back when it first happened, she’d considered confessing, and perhaps, in the beginning, she might have. She’d missed her chance, though, and now it was too late. Too much had happened: the search parties, the policemen, the articles in the newspapers pleading for information. There was no one she could tell, no way to fix it, no way they would ever forgive her. The only thing left was to bury the evidence.

    She reached the place she’d chosen. The bag, with its box inside, was surprisingly heavy and it was a relief to put it down. On hands and knees, she pulled away the camouflage of ferns and branches. The smell of sodden soil was overwhelming, of wood mouse and mushrooms, of other moldering things. Her father had told her once that generations had walked these woods and been buried deep beneath the heavy earth. It made him glad, she knew, to think of it that way. He found comfort in the continuity of nature, believing that the stability of the long past had the power to alleviate present troubles. And maybe in some cases it had, but not this time, not these troubles.

    She lowered the bag into the hole and for a split second the moon seemed to peer from behind a cloud. Tears threatened as she scooped the dirt back, but she fought them. To cry, here and now, was an indulgence she refused to grant herself. She patted the ground flat, slapped her hands against it, and stomped down hard with her boots until she was out of breath.

    There. It was done.

    It crossed her mind that she should say something before she left this lonely place. Something about the death of innocence, the deep remorse that would follow her always; but she didn’t. The inclination made her feel ashamed.

    She made her way back quickly through the woods, careful to avoid the boathouse and its memories. Dawn was breaking as she reached the house; the rain was light. The lake’s water lapped at its banks and the last of the nightingales called farewell. The blackcaps and warblers were waking, and far in the distance a horse whinnied. She didn’t know it then, but she would never be rid of them, those sounds; they would follow her from this place, this time, invading her dreams and nightmares, reminding her always of what she had done.

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Lake House includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


    From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours comes an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

    Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

    One Midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace, a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

    Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone . . . yet more present than ever.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. The structure of this novel lies in recreating different time periods in Cornwall and London—in the early 1930s and in 2003. Do you feel that the author was successful in moving the reader between the historical and more contemporary times?

    2. Thinking about the stories and histories in The Lake House, what themes were most interesting to you?

    3. The Lake House is the English translation of Loeanneth, the house’s Cornish name. Have you read other novels in which a house features within the text as vital and alive, almost as if it is another character in its own right?

    4. The main female characters, Sadie, Alice, and Eleanor are all strong women with flaws. Is this the way you saw them? Did their imperfections allow you to identify or sympathize with one more than another? If so, why do you think that was?

    5. Sadie Sparrow’s job as a detective and Alice’s bestselling crime-writing career has allowed an interesting incursion of the crime genre into The Lake House’s gothic mystery genre. Were you aware of this in your reading?

    6. Both World War I and II have tragic and far-reaching effects on the characters and narrative of The Lake House. Discuss.

    7. Mysteries, twists, family secrets, carefully placed red herrings, and unexpected revelations are now compelling traditions in Kate Morton’s novels. What parts of the novel were key to your enjoyment of the story?

    8. The author poses the often complex question of what moral obligation each character has to another within their particular stories. Were decisions made within the novel with which you disagreed? Or could you see yourself making similar decisions?

    9. After Sadie stumbles upon Loeanneth, she’s drawn to it, returning daily and “no matter which way she headed out on her morning run, she always ended up in the overgrown garden.” (p. 135) What is it about Loeanneth that intrigues Sadie? Why do you think she dives head first into solving the mysteries of the estate?

    10. What did you think of Eleanor when you first encountered her? Did your feelings about her change? In what ways and why?

    11. Many reviewers have praised Kate Morton’s writing, particularly the way she reveals family secrets. What family secrets were revealed in The Lake House? Did you find any particularly shocking? Which ones and why?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Kate Morton has cited Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood as the book that most influenced her to become a writer, saying “when I look at the books I write now, I can see her lingering influence.” Read The Enchanted Wood with your book club and discuss it within the context of The Lake House. Do you see the influence of Blyton’s writing in The Lake House? Do the books have anything in common? If so, what?

    2. With its hidden secrets and the sprawling estate, The Lake House has a cinematic feel to it. Would you like to see it as a film? Discuss who your casting choices would be with your book club.

    3. To learn more about Kate Morton, read her blog, learn more about her other books and participate in the readers forums, visit her official site at

    Customer Reviews

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    The Lake House 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    KATE Morton does it again, she draws you into the book and you don't want to let go. The ending is always different from what you think it should be. Great read and wonderful author, I off to read another of hers.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kate Morton has written another masterpiece. Her characters are so believable, you immediately feel close and are eager to find out what has happened. I like trying to figure out what has occured only to find myself wrong at the end. Everyone should read this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I found the book to be too long and was scanning the pages just to finish the book. Also, the ending was ridiculous. I have read other books by Kate Morton that I have enjoyed. This book was so disappointing.
    cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
    “We are all victims of our human experience, apt to view the present through the lens of our own past” The Lake House is the fifth novel by Australian author, Kate Morton. DC Sadie Sparrow has had to take leave from the job she loves. She got so deeply involved in a case, following instinct over evidence, that she secretly did something that would get her suspended if her boss knew. A month in Cornwall with her widower grandfather, Bertie, and she’s itching to get back to London, where the real action is. But then one day, while running through the woods with the dogs, she stumbles upon an abandoned house by the lake. Bertie’s neighbour mentions that this was the site of the tragic disappearance of 11 month old Theo Edevane, a mystery still unsolved after seventy years: Sadie is hooked. When successful mystery writer A.C. Edevane receives a letter from the young police constable enquiring about her family’s past, she fears that the secret she has kept for seventy years is about to be revealed. Alice is sure that when she was sixteen, consumed with fervour for both her writing and a certain unsuitable person, her foolish actions leading up to the Midsummer’s Eve party were instrumental in the kidnapping of her baby brother. Morton sets her novel over two time periods. The events that led up to, and followed on from, the tragedy in the early to mid-twentieth century are narrated by many of the key players: young Alice, her mother, her father, her grandmother, a gardener, a close family friend and even baby Theo; what occurs in 2003 is told by Sadie, Alice and her assistant, Peter. And while the time periods are clearly indicated at the start of the chapters, the style of prose, the descriptions and dialogue also reflect this. Morton gives the reader an expertly crafted mystery. At first she has the reader wondering about Alice’s role in Theo’s disappearance, then, with each new revelation, has the reader discarding one theory concerning Theo’s fate and postulating another. There are miscommunications, misunderstandings, secrets and misplaced guilt. And while the main mystery involves baby Theo, there are at least three other mysteries to distract the reader. There are twists and red herrings and surprises, and the ending holds a delicious irony. And all this is done with characters that are interesting and beautiful prose that evokes the wonderful setting. “Those afternoons in the library, breathing the stale sun-warmed dust of a thousand stories (accented by the collective mildew of a hundred years of rising damp), had been enchanted. …. Peter was beset with an almost bodily sense of being back there. His limbs twitched with the memory of being nine years old and lanky as a foal. His mood lifted as he remembered how large, how filled with possibilities, and yet, at once, how safe and navigable the world had seemed when he was shut within those four walls”. A brilliant read. With thanks to TheReadingRoom and Allen&Unwin for this copy to read and review.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Amazing. Caught me completely by surprise at the end. I literally clapped my hand over my mouth in surprise! I love all her books!
    Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
    5 stars!! Can you give more? Oh my gosh, this book was soooo good!!! I am really sad that it's over, even though it's like 600 pages long. There were actually three stories going on here. One was a present day case which got the detective into a bit of trouble and so she was on mandatory leave allowing her time for the second story. The second story and the most involved in the book was a 70 year old cold case that took place near where her grandfather now lives. She stumbled upon the case by accident and with free time decided to look into it. And boy, is it a case. An 11 month old child disappears back in 1933 or 1934 with hundreds of people on the property and no one saw nothing and he has never been found. The third story is merely hinted at and not really dwelt upon, but it deals with the child the detective gave up when she was a pregnant teenager. The cold case has the reader and the family blaming just about everyone. And most of the suspects are in the family. I can say enough about how good this story was. It was well written. It went back and forth in history to present time and let the reader know what era was being talked about. The characters were well developed and for the most part likable. The family is what you would consider upper class with a nanny and servants along with gardeners. The only kidnapping that had happened before this (according to the story) was the Lindbergh kidnapping and police were stumped. Especially since there was not a ransom note. I'm not sure if this review is coming across as to how good this story is, but believe me, it will definitely be on my top 12 for 2015. There was not once that I was bored with this book, as a matter of fact, I could not read it fast enough. It starts with a female running and hiding something and with a little boy missing. And then it goes years back and starts talking about how this family began. So you definitely know something is going to happen and that a female is involved somehow, someway. I would like to thank Atria Books for sending me this ARC. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries that leave you going "what?".
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was a wonderful book. It held my interest way into the night. I loved the characters, the mystery and was surprised at how the book ended. This book will forever be one of my favorites. I can't wait to read the other books by Kate Morton.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved this book until one very important revelation regarding Theo was revealed at the climax of the novel. Way too unbelievable not to detract from a story that was, otherwise, engrossing and hugely entertaining!!!
    nbaker1234 More than 1 year ago
    Kate Morton does it again -- another 600 page book that you read in 2 days. Just when I thought Kate Morton couldn't do any better than The Secret Keeper, she shows me that she is still the master of creating suspenseful, secretive stories that keep you hanging until the last page. I only found one small flaw in the story (even when it was first mentioned I pondered that it seemed a bit contrived), but it did nothing to affect the outcome. The Lake House revolves around two generations of one family that have owned and inhabited a lake house for many, many years. There are secrets held by everyone and for different reasons. Some secrets are the truth while others are later found to be what some "assumed" to be the truth. Grandmother, mother, father, daughters all house their guilt, shame and burdens in shadows and in silence. The mystery of a baby boy who disappeared from his crib in 1933 is at the center of the story. Seventy years after his disappearance the cold case is revisted by a detective who has been "asked to take a leave of absence" because of a case she was working in which they feel she stepped over the line. Intrigue, intuition and pure instinct are rooted in the detective's motive for trying to solve the case. Little did she realize the pandora's box she was about to open. While reading this story I cast blame on basically every character in the story (some characters more than once) and still did not see the ending coming. Entwined in the story is the thread that binds all families together, the genetic DNA parallel between kin that conjures a spiritual devotion, attachment and compassion no matter the geographic distance or circumstances that may separate them. Some people seek forgiveness for secrets kept. Some people take secrets to the grave. And some just need to visit The Lake House and see what real secrets are made of.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have been a fan from Kate Morton's first book and I really feel this was her best. Hope there will be another one soon, but, can't imagine it being better than this one.
    msdarann More than 1 year ago
    As always, Kate has come through with a fantastic book! I think is her best workto date. Thank you Kate for another extremely well written boom, I could not put it down and was bummed out that I finished it.
    wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
    The Lake House highlights Kate Morton’s usual style, at the intersection between historical fiction and mystery, in all its greatness. The words make you want to linger on each and the plot makes you turn the pages. Kate Morton is one of my favorite contemporary female writers. Her latest novel, The Lake House, has all the elements of Morton’s novels, smartly arranged together. As I have written here somewhere before, Morton manages to keep the same ingredients from one book to the next, without giving you the feeling of déjà vu. Not everyone has that skill!! So as in other books by this author, you have several time periods and places, with back and forth movements and intersection in the narration: Cornwall 1932-1933: The Edevane family Cornwall 2003: Sadie London 200: the author Alice and her assistant Flashbacks to the 1910s and the 1930s, focusing on the past history of the main characters, on how they met, and highlighting the effects of war on the soldiers and their families There are also several stories and groups of characters involved, and they connect: The Edevane mystery The Bailey mystery Sadie’s own life Sadie, a young detective, is having a hard time in her family and in her profession: in the last case she worked on, Sadie suspected foul play and contacted the medias about it, as the police thought there was really nothing serious going on. To avoid being suspended from her work, she is asked to go away from London for a while, the time things cool down. She decides to spend some time in a remote area in Cornwall, at her grand-father’s who raised her actually. As she goes out for a walk, she stumbles upon an old abandoned house. Curious, she gets help from a local librarian and discovers something terrible happened there decades earlier: during a Midsummer Eve’s party, Theo, the baby boy of the family, disappeared. He has never been found, and the police never found out what happened to him. So Sadie tries to reopen the case and figure it out. This is as much a historical novel (all the passages on the war) as a mystery, with two cases to solve, and many family secrets. The Edevane mystery offers numerous leads (you first think you got it, and then new leads keep multiplying – how does Kate Morton do it?!) and red-herrings, though I have to say I did see the end coming, probably from being quite familiar with the author’s style, so chapter 33 was not a surprise to me. The book does open like a thriller: by night, in the rain, a young woman is secretly digging a hole in the forest. She is burying the evidence of something she has done… Descriptions in Morton’s book are always so wonderful, both bucolic and spooky, for instance as she describes the Edevane property and the woods. She can be funny too, and quite specific, for instance in the presentation of characters (I have grand-mother Constance especially in mind.) It was also neat to see the essential place in the plot given to journals, letters, old maps, and even a mystery series written by a key character. The reader will be rewarded by a happy ending, but at the price of a lot of drama and a torturous suspense at times.
    4theloveofdolls More than 1 year ago
    Very well written. Characters are well developed. Just when you think you have it figured out there is a new twist. Will recommend
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed every page
    wendywhiner More than 1 year ago
    Kate Morgan does not disappoint Probably her best book yet and the others were all excellant
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The story was so engrossing. The sense of place drew you in. My only gripe being the need to make the resolution so pat.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Another great story by Kate Morton. Couldn't put it down. Fabulous job Kate!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Some predictable twists as well as several surprises.
    Duffy52 More than 1 year ago
    This was an unbelievably delicious story. After the first 50 pages I could not put it down. Surprise after surprise after surprise. I never read anything from this author before but after this I bought two more of her books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I'm totally engrossed by all her books. Kate Morton is one of my favorites.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Total page turner till the last page.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I had a little trouble getting into the book, but it didn't last long. I enjoyed it immensely.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kate Morton has done it again! Amazing book! I couldn't put it down!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Everything a good read should be. Carries one in time and place. Wonderful escape! Couldn't wait to see how it concluded but didn't want it to end.