Anna’s grandfather Max is 94 and the discovery of a Parisian apartment frozen in time deeply affects him. He begs Anna to travel to his childhood home in Germany and retrieve an engagement ring hidden there seventy years earlier. Anna travels to Germany but finds the locals and new owner to be unhelpful. Can she find the ring and Max’s lost love?
The House by the Lake has a dual timeline of Anna in 2010 and Max in the 1930s. We first met Isabelle de Florian in Paris Time Capsule but now find out much more about her life and love. However, this would work just as well as a stand alone novel, and perhaps it would even work better as the first in the series as readers of the first book already know what happens to Isabelle so the impact is reduced.
The build up of the relationship between Isabelle and Max develops in contrast to the rise of Nazism and the political situation in Europe. The class and social struggles that Isabelle faces at first fade to insignificance compared to the prospect of war.
I liked the use of a relationship between a French woman and German man to show the troubles faced by both nationalities in the lead up to war. There is a feeling of hope at the end of the book which softens the heartache of earlier events.
Anna in the present day is tenacious in her search for her grandfather’s ring and his lost love. The descriptions of Germany and the house are vivid, and I felt drawn into the mystery even as it unfolds in the earlier timeline.
Overall, The House By The Lake was an enjoyable historical novel about love and loss.
The House by the Lake book description:
The cobbled streets were dark as Isabelle hurried through the shadows, dodging in and out of doorways, constantly looking back. She worried the sound of her loudly thumping heart would give her away, as she peered around a corner. Suddenly, Isabelle was surrounded by Nazi soldiers, their black boots pounding on the pavement, barring her way…
1939, Berlin. Max Albrecht is the young and handsome heir to a beautiful house on a lake where he spent his happy childhood. As war approaches, his parents tell him he must join the Nazi party or the whole family will be killed. But when his beloved French fiancé Isabelle shows him the horrifying truth, Max faces an impossible choice: protect his family or save the girl he loves?
2010, San Francisco. Anna Young is content with her life, running a bustling deli and taking care of her adored grandfather Max, who raised her. Max has never spoken of his past until he hands over an old map, the plans to a grand house just north of Berlin. With a shaking finger, he points to it and says, “I left something behind under the floorboards. Please bring it home before I die.”
When Anna arrives at the crumbling manor in Germany, she discovers a hidden engagement ring in a velvet box. She is desperate to find the woman her grandfather hoped to marry, but the local villagers look away when she mentions Max’s name, and back in San Francisco he is now in hospital, too unwell to speak to her. What did Max do so many years ago? Is Anna ready for the terrible secret that her family’s past may hold?
From bestselling author Ella Carey comes an unforgettable novel, weaving together past and present. Gripping and heartbreaking, The House by the Lake uncovers the secrets and devastating choices that people were forced to make during history’s darkest time.
Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.
Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.