About the Book
From the bestselling author of The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, a novel of long-hidden family secrets that refuse to lie buried in the past . . .
Scotland, 1950s. Walter MacMillan is bewitched by the clever, glamorous Jean Thompson and can’t believe his luck when she agrees to marry him. Neither can she, for Walter represents a steady and loving man who can perhaps quiet the demons inside her. Yet their home on remote Loch Doon soon becomes a prison for Jean and neither a young family, nor Walter’s care, can seem to save her.
Many years later, Walter is with his adult children and adored grandchildren on the shores of Loch Doon where the family has been holidaying for two generations. But the shadows of the past stretch over them and will turn all their lives upside down on one fateful weekend.
Format: ebook (384 pages) Publisher: Two Roads Books
Publication date: 13th June 2019 Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Find The House by the Loch on Goodreads
I think I was expecting a lot more of this novel to be set in the past and, although a good portion of it is, the primary focus is the present day and the MacMillan family: grandfather,Walter; his son and daughter, Patrick and Fiona; their respective partners, Elinor and Roland; and Walter’s grandchildren, Pete, Carson and Iona. A lot of the story is seen from the point of view of Carson and I particularly liked the strong bond she has with her grandfather and her willingness to embrace exciting opportunities.
I enjoyed the sections of the book looking back at the development of the relationship between Walter and his late wife, Jean, from their initial meeting, their courtship and marriage to starting a family. However, behind the scenes there are tensions including Jean’s domineering father, her troubled mother and the long hours Jean spends alone in their house on the remote, if picturesque, Loch Doon. How these tensions manifest themselves in Jean’s behaviour, and the impact of this behaviour on Walter and their children is heartbreaking. Even more so, when the full story becomes known.
As for the story set in the present day, it becomes gradually apparent that history may be repeating itself. Loch Doon may be a place of beauty but it has also been the scene of tragic events, including one witnessed by Walter as a young boy, and will be again.
In her afterword, the author writes, “This novel means a great deal to me. It expresses my love of Scotland and the power it holds over me, and it also expresses the complexity of what family is and the way that it remakes itself endlessly.” The author’s love of Scotland definitely comes through in the wonderful descriptions of the loch and the surrounding Galloway hills.
The House by the Loch is an emotional, well-crafted story of a family dealing with change, guilt and loss, and how – together – they must come to terms with secrets of the past and face up to the future.
I received a review copy courtesy of Two Roads Books and NetGalley.
In three words: Emotional, dramatic, engrossing
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About the Author
Kirsty Wark is a journalist, broadcaster and writer who has presented a wide range of BBC programmes over the past thirty years, from the ground breaking Late Show to the nightly current affairs show Newsnight and the weekly arts and cultural review and comment show, The Review Show.
She has conducted longform interviews with everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Madonna, Harold Pinter, Elton John, the musician Pete Doherty, Damian Hirst, George Clooney and the likes of Toni Morrison, Donna Tartt and Philip Roth.
Kirsty has won several major awards for her work, including BAFTA Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting, Journalist of the Year and Best Television Presenter. Her debut novel, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, was published in March 2014 by Two Roads and was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award, as well as nominated for the 2016 International DUBLIN Literary Award. The House by the Loch has been inspired by her childhood memories and family, particularly her father.
Born in Dumfries and educated in Ayr, Scotland, Kirsty now lives in Glasgow.