Today’s team review is from Frank.
Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/
Frank has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
There is so much that is great about this book that it is difficult to know where to start. So I will start at the beginning. Léa took on the business of running an Auberge beside a lake in rural France in order to give her something to take her mind off the tragic loss of her son by cot death at just 3 months old. Now, in 1969, it is clear that her marriage is on the rocks. She and husband Bruno, Head Master at the village school, are constantly bickering, blaming each other for the tragedy. During one particularly heated exchange their 8 year old daughter, Juliette, wanders off. When she does not return we have the beginnings of a tension filled mystery. And the ensuing plot is handled with consummate skill by this Australian writer who has lived in France for more than two decades.
For those of us old enough to remember them, the years embracing the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies can offer a rosy hued vision of ‘flower power’; of Height Ashbury and Woodstock, of armed guards confronted by hippies pushing flowers into the barrels of their guns. But it was also a time of riots across several European nations and the USA, of the cold war and fears of communism and nuclear war; a time when strange cults emerged led by charismatic psychopaths who brainwashed their adherents into believing dangerous nonsense. It is this atmosphere that Perrat taps into with her mesmerising tale.
The first half of the book concentrates on Léa’s attempts to come to terms with the loss of another child. As weeks pass and nobody is found whilst more girls from the same age group disappear, we share her anger at the incompetence of the Gendarmerie. When she seeks help from a friend who claims to be clairvoyant she is treated with scorn. Meanwhile readers are provided with tantalising glimpses of the abductor and his henchwomen, his wife and sister.
The second half of the book presents a description of the lives of the girls under the discipline ordered by the abductor and administered by the women. The abductor’s master plan is revealed and tension rises as Juliette devises an escape plan.
The climax is superbly handled. There is no siege by armed gendarmes as might be the case today. I can’t tell you how the situation is resolved, for that would spoil your pleasure in reading it for yourself, something which I urge you to do.
The events are told from the different points of view of several of the characters. Each has a unique and utterly believable voice. The children, especially, are beautifully drawn. Animals, too, have important roles and their behaviour demonstrates the author’s skill as an observer of every aspect of life in rural France. So, too, do her descriptions of the landscape and climate. It is these details that bring the novel to life and make it one of the best domestic thrillers you will read in a long time. I wish I could award more than 5 stars.
A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.