The House by the Lake - Ella Carey
Anna is content with her well-ordered life in San Francisco. But her world is turned upside down when her beloved grandfather, Max, reveals a startling secret: Anna is part of an aristocratic family who lost everything during World War II. What’s more, Max was forced to leave behind a precious item over seventy years ago in their estate in old Prussia. It’s now his ardent wish that Anna retrieve it.
Anna burns with questions as she heads for Germany: What memento could be so important to her grandfather? And why did he keep their history hidden? As she searches for answers, she finds herself drawn to Wil, a man who may hold the key to unlock the mystery. Together they discover that her family’s secrets are linked with an abandoned apartment in Paris, and these secrets go deeper than she ever imagined.
Alternating between 1930s Europe and the present, The House by the Lake illuminates the destiny of a family caught in the tumult of history.
First of all, I loved the connection to the first book. It's not a sequel and if you didn't read the first book you won't be lost at all but I really loved the nod to that book. I think this book brings us even more into the past than the first and I just really loved Max. You know what else? It dawned on me that I think we'll never have another generation quite like Max's generation. When you talk to people who have been through things like World War II, that changed them as a person completely. It doesn't matter where you were in the world, that time period is like a change in a person's DNA and I don't know if we will every really understand what it was like in those times because I think the truly awful things are down muted because the feelings those memories brings is just too overwhelming.
Loved this book. The idea that a person like Anna, who has essentially given up on love, would pick up and go to Germany to bring back something so important to her grandfather is just... it's a lot. I cannot even imagine being asked that but if money weren't an issue I'd obviously go. I'd be terrified and probably confused, but I'd go.
Obviously, given the time period the story reflects, the story has some pretty sad parts and it was like Max's current refusal to really talk about his past all made sense. I don't think I'd be real expressive about it, either. The story kind of morphs more into a mystery because Max doesn't tell Anna what item she's even looking for, which is bizarre. Once it's found.. it felt a little anti-climatic but overall the story of Max and Isabelle won me over. There is a key thing about the book that kind of stunned me, and almost made me quit, but I won't share it because it's a massive spoiler and I don't want it to turn you away from reading the book. Just know going in it might stun you for a bit. I had to really process it before I kept going. So there's that.
You can find a copy of The House by the Lake on Amazon right now. Ella is working on book three so I'm excited to see where she takes us next. Also curious if any of the characters from this book carry over into the third? We'll see!