Family Secrets: The Lake House by Kate Morton

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Lake house in Albany, NY from Albany archives

Sadie Sparrow, forced into vacation from her post as detective with the London Metropolitan police department for her work on a missing mother case, retreats to Cornwall circa 2003 to visit her grandfather Bertie. While there, she finds an abandoned lake house — Loeanneth — the ancestral home of the deShiel family where a notorious crime occurred in 1933: the youngest child of Lord Anthony Edevane and his wife Eleanor deShiel Evevane  went missing.

So begins Kate Morton’s historical fiction, whodunit, Gothic romance, police procedural The Lake House. It has everything! A meet cute! An affair! A revenge plot! Tunnels! Fired servants! Charming grandpa! Pig-headed detectives! A crime novelist! And lots (and lots and lots and lots) of scenic detail. Grasses waving, winds whispering, brooks babbling, minds wandering, backstories telling, etc . . .

Midsummer-Ball_LgIt all began in 1933 at the Edevane’s Midsummer Party. Which actually was the deShielx tradition continued by Lord Anthony Edevane and Eleanor after Anthony rescued Loeanneth as a post-wedding, posf-suprise lordship gift for his wife.

So it all began in 1914ish when Anthony and Eleanor mlipton teaet cute: Anthony saved Eleanor from being run down on the streets of London by a bus bearing a Lipton tea ad on her way to see some tigers.

Actually, it all began in 2003 when Sadie Sparrow, incensed by the pigheaded of her superiors to consider her theory that a child’s mother has been murdered rather than run away, goes to the media and plants her theory in contravention of her orders. She is then placed on involuntary administrative leave by her partner where she discovers — Loeanneth. And a mystery she can sink her teeth into: the disappearance of 9 month old baby Theo.

Or perhaps it began when Eleanor was a child and her father’s best friend, Mr. Llewellyn, wrote a book for her that became a childhood classic.

Throughout The Lake House, each thought becomes a complex reference to the past and that reference is connected to another memory which strings along to the present or future.

The best view of the lake was from the Mulberry Room but Alice decided to mae do with the bathroom window. Mr. Llewellyn was still down by the stream with his easel, but he always retired early for a rest and she didn’t want to risk an encounter. The old man was harmless enough, but he was eccentric and needy, especially of late, and she feared her unexpected presence his room would send the wrong sort of signal. She’d been enormously fond of him once, when she was younger, and he of her. Odd to think of it now, at sixteen, the stories he’d told, the little sketches he’d drawn that she’d treasured, the air of wonder he’d trailed behind him like a song. At any rate, the bathroom was closer than the Mulberry Room, and with only a matter of minutes before Mother realised the first-floor rooms lacked flowers, Alice had no time to waste in climbing stairs.
The Lake House has interesting characters, a multi-dimensional plot, several elements of mystery and yet, at least in the audio version, it was at times a behemoth read (21 hours and 24 minutes!). The printed version is 512 pages long. If you love English-ness in your fiction, you will appreciate The Lake House. It seems a bit long for my book club, but there may be some that would lustily attack the pages, the details and the mysteries. There is certainly an abundance of food.
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MENU
TEA. Dearie me, if you played a drinking game every time tea is mentioned in this book you would be drunk by page 5.
During one particularly significant picnic, Eleanor provides
Ham Sandwiches
Cox’s Orange Pippins (an apple!)
Cake
There is also mention of “bully beef” (Corned beef) and tinned milk.
And Pear Cake.
From Chocolate and Zucchini, a lovely food blog, here’s a recipe for Pear Cake. It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try. http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cakes-tarts/my-grandmothers-pear-cake-recipe/
MUSIC
Music wasn’t incredibly important to the plot of The Lake House but some of the names of the characters were incredibly musical. I think I will make a play list based on character’s names.
Alice — Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown
Deborah — Deborah by The Crickets
Clementine — Darling Clementine, folk song
Eleanor — Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles
Ben — Ben by Michael Jackson
Bertie — Bertie by Kate Bush
Anthony — Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by Billy Joel
Sadie — Sadie by James Taylor
Isn’t that fun?!?!
Casting lake house book
Young Alice — Saoirse Ronin
Sadie — Kelly Reilly (love her in season two of True Detective)
Anthony — Jude Law
Eleanor — Sienna Miller
Ben — Jamie Dornan
Old Alice — Judi Dench
Bertie — Michael Gambon
HAPPY READING!
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Crossing the Tracks: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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     I was browsing my local book sellers a week or so after New Year and picked up a hardbound book on the fiction shelf. The cover was bright, green and black with blurred lines of type:  The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  “Ah yes, I think I heard of this, NPR, maybe?” I said to my buddy, Proprietor Wyn Morris.  “It’s supposed to be the new Gone Girl,” Wyn nodded sagely.  “Really?”  “Indeed.”  I plonked down my cash and took it home, vowing to place it at the top of the “to read” pile.

     Here’s a link to the NPR review:  http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376167043/girl-on-the-train-pays-homage-to-hitchcock.

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     Much like Gone Girl, there are exceedingly unreliable narrators though in this case, two women.  One the girl of the title.  She, Rachel, is on the train because she’s riding it into London, pretending to go to her office from which she’s been fired for getting wasted during a client lunch.  The train trip also allows her to spy on her ex-husband’s house and the nearby home of a young married couple (Megan and Scott) around whom she has created a elaborate fantasy.  As Rachel sips from yet another canned Gin & Tonic (yuck by the way), or pours herself a glass of wine from the brown paper bag on her tray table.  I couldn’t help but think train travel must be quite a bit different in the UK, but then again, I’ve only travelled by train in the US once that I can think of so for all I know loads of people are carting canned G&T’s with them all over the place.

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     Megan is the second narrator of the novel.  When Megan disappears, Rachel over-involves herself in helping Scott to find his wife.  Unfortunately, since Rachel was near the scene of Megan’s disappearance and in a dead-drunk blackout, her help is mostly in name only.

     It would be impossible to describe much more of the plot without ruining your read.  I will say, for those who were disappointed in the conclusion of Gone Girl, you will not find the same frustration here.  There is quite the corker of an ending.

MENU

     Other than a breakfast of eggs and bacon, I don’t recall anyone eating any food in this book.  There was an incredible amount of alcohol however.  So I’ve taken that as my cue for menu planning:

DRUNKEN CHICKEN

Ingredients
1 (3-pound) chicken
Seasoned salt
House seasoning, recipe follows
1 (12-ounce) can beer
1 sprig rosemary

Directions
Preheat a charcoal grill over high heat. When the coals are hot and glowing, carefully push them over to the sides of the grill, leaving an open space in the middle of the grill. Wash and drain chicken. Coat the chicken inside and out with seasoned salt, pepper, lemon pepper and/or garlic powder. Open the can of beer and carefully insert a sprig of rosemary. Then, place the beer can into the body cavity starting at the rear of the chicken. Carefully place the chicken on the center of the grill, facing 1 of the banks of the coals, making sure not to spill the beer. Cover the grill and cook until chicken is done, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the chicken as necessary. The chicken is done when the juice runs clear.

PASTA WITH GIN SAUCE

You’ve heard of vodka sauce?  Well, Macheesmo says his Gin Penne Pasta is even better.  I’m going to try it.  It would go well with the Drunken Chicken and the book theme.  Here’s the recipe link:  http://www.macheesmo.com/2012/01/gin-penne-pasta/

BOURBON BALLS

You CAN make them, but I’d rather buy them from Old Kentucky Candies or Rebecca Ruth.  http://www.oldkycandy.comhttp://rebeccaruth.stores.yahoo.net

Another great dessert would be POACHED PEARS

Peel (carefully) pears.  If you want to serve whole, leave the stem intact.  If you want to serve halves, core them and halve.

In a stainless steel pan, mix four cups red wine with one cup of sugar until sugar dissolves.

Place the pears in the pan, then cover them with a plate to weigh them down and ensure even cooking.  Heat at simmer for ten minutes, then check doneness with a fork.  Continue to simmer to taste.  Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and serve warm or store in the poaching liquid until ready to serve.

MUSIC

You’re Not Drinking Enough, Don Henley

Crazy, Patsy Cline

Crazy, Gnarls Barkley

Family Tradition, Hank Williams, Jr.

Five O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson

Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett

Friends in Low Places, Garth Brooks

Paula Hawkins’ Facebook page featured a link to a playlist created especially for The Girl on the Train:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG3OkdArBbNCi2C0f_s1XttGebLGWFiCI.

MOVIE CAST

This, by the way, has lots of potential for a movie.

Rachel — Kate Winslet

Megan — Sienna Miller

Anna — Carey Mulligan

Scott — Tom Hardy

Tom — Christian Bale

UPDATE: The movie version will come out later this year and I didn’t get a single actor right. The producers went with several American actors. Here’s a full list: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3631112/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

Happy Reading, Eating & Moderate Drinking!