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.
The House by the Loch is the story of a family in all its loving complexity, and the way it can, and must, remake itself endlessly in order to make peace with the past.
A wonderfully atmospheric and evocative book, I was transported to Loch Doon and the surrounding area of Ayrshire.
Extremely well researched, the novel follows the life of Walter Macmillian, moving between the 1950’s where he meets Jean Thompson and present day as his family, now consisting of a son, daughter and grandchildren, meet at their wonderful second homes by The Loch.
Back in time we learn of how Walter meets Jean and learn of her upbringing and parents, who are far better off than Walter’s and also of how Jean adapts to living out of town with her new husband, away from her mother who is unable to leave the house.
In present time we read of Walter’s children and the dynamics of their relationships with their spouses and own children.
Both time lines have incidents that change the lives of all of those involved forever but without spoiling the book I won’t go into detail here. But will say this story has a lot of light and shade in it’s storytelling that are both moving and enjoyable.
I really liked all of the characters, all in different ways and found them very believable. There were some areas of their personalities that I didn’t quite understand but put it down to the era in which they were living at the time. I found the dynamics of Walter’s children really interesting and thought the children were very well written and that their emotions came through well in Wark’s writing. Although I found that the book reads almost in two half and that I found them very different in emotion, I still thought they were written in the same rich and layered style and with the same attention to detail.
The setting and area is a huge part of the book and it’s description and part it plays in the lives of the characters was a joy to read.
I hadn’t read Kirsty Wark before but will now look for her previous book The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle.