Sunday, 4 May 2014

Book Review: Black Lake by Johanna Lane

Black Lake
By Johanna Lane
Published by Tinder Press
Available in hardback and ebook. Paperback is forthcoming.

Johanna Lane's debut novel, Black Lake, is an atmospheric and compelling story of family tragedy and loss.

Lane fully immerses the reader into the idyllic Dunlough estate surrounded by wild Irish countryside and storms coming off the Atlantic Ocean. The imposing house has had a tight hold over the Campbell family for many generations.

The reader knows there is a family tragedy by the end of the first chapter. Lane stops there and rewinds, showing the reader the events leading up to the tragic incident and also beyond through the different perspective of each family member. This is a beautifully written character-driven novel full of complicated family drama and the impact of hidden secrets

The house is crumbling and is in need of repair with secrets locked behind doors - all hidden from public view. Lane uses the house as a metaphor for the Campbell family. The Campbells' have no money left and they must move out of their huge space into a tightly packed cottage so that the Government can open their home to the public. Nothing is private, leaving each family member exposed. Just like the house they must develop a split life - one for the tourists and another for their private life.

Lane uses Black Lake to explore the way people are deeply connected to their homes and the way surroundings can consume your life. In a space shared by tourists, each family member tries to snatch back their own privacy some where on the estate and they all must come to terms with their new life by mourning their privacy.  Each family member carves out their own space so they can keep a lifeline to their old self - the father keeps his office and is surrounded by secrets from generations before him, the mother has her garden, the son builds a hiding place to tuck away his treasures and the sister finds her space is away from the family home. There is a thin layer of polished smiles for the public but there are simmering resentments and secrets lurking.

This is a fantastic novel. I found myself thinking about this book several days after I had finished read it! I'm looking forward to reading Lane's next book.

You can buy Black Lake from your favourite online or even offline book retailer.

I was kindly sent a copy by the Publisher.

1 comment:

Sandra Danby Author said...

The key for me is whether a book leaves me thinking about it a couple of days later. If it does, I always read more of that author. :) SD