This pedometer geek reader had the opportunity to read the new novel, The House by the Lake, by Ella Carey, thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing. This is the sequel to her novel, Paris Time Capsule, which was previously reviewed on this site. This is the extended review.
The House by the Lake
by Ella Carey
Publish by Lake Union Publishing, 2016
Ella Carey follows up her novel, Paris Time Capsule, with another story from that era.
Alternating between the present and the past in the time leading up to World War II, this novel follows some of her characters from the previous novel. Like the previous novel, it is another time capsule…of a love during the rise of Nazi Germany.
Bridging the two eras is Max Albrecht, the pivotal character of the novel. He’s a German aristocrat from Prussia, and it is his desire that his granddaughter Anna return to his ancestral home for a ring. Gravely ill, he implores her to go to Germany, talking only in generalities about a past of which she has been previously unaware. Now, for her beloved grandfather, she must go to Schloss Siegel and retrieve the ring, leading her to find out the particulars in his past. In so doing, she meets Wil, who may hold the key to both Max’s past and her present.
Max’s past is intertwined with Isabelle de Florian, the granddaughter of Marthe de Florian (one of the protagonists of the previous novel), the famous subject of Boldini’s newly discovered masterpiece found when a Parisian apartment was opened after being closed up for seventy years. It is the love story of Max and Isabelle that Carey explores in the sections of the novel set in pre-World War II Germany and France. The author’s descriptions are lush in the details of this time; she transports the reader to a time before Hitler’s rise to power when picnics on the lawn and lavish parties were held by aristocratic families. Yet, she also shows the harshness of a regime that expected total obedience.
The other half of the novel concentrates on Anna herself and her discoveries of a family she never knew existed. In her attempts to visit the closed-up, abandoned schloss (manor house), she interacts with Wil, who is the lawyer connected to the estate. Their blossoming relationship as well as her interactions with the village and its community members make up the other half of the novel, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion as to why Max never returned to his home.
Having read both of these novels, this reader knows it is not absolutely necessary to read them both as each story can stand alone on its merits, but I still recommend doing so because this story continues the story line of Marthe while it fleshes out another generation of the de Florian family with Isabelle’s story. These two novels are particularly recommended to anyone who enjoys a love story combined with history.
As this review was being written, this reader discovered that there will be another novel (From a Paris Balcony), which will be published in October 2016. Again, the author will be blending the time of Marthe de Florian with the protagonist’s present, and I, for one, look forward to reading it.
While the discovery of the apartment of Marthe de Florian is true, the abandoned manor house in Germany is completely fictional. Moreover, both stories come from the imagination of the author.