‘Daughters of the Lake’ – Jane Riddell
Daughters of the Lake is a contemporary family drama set in Switzerland. Madalena invites her four adult children to celebrate her hotel’s fortieth anniversary, unaware of their tensions and secrets. As the day of the celebration approaches, confused emotions take hold, and the occasion goes badly wrong. Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, this is a story of love, betrayal and family conflict.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. To be honest, based on the cover, I was a little dubious about what this book could offer me. A little drab and, quite frankly, a little dated, I was expecting a hard slog and a basic plot. However, readers be warned: do not be deceived! Once I had got into the story, I found Daughters of the Lake intriguing, surprising and one that kept me interested right until the very end.
Riddell writes about this family from different perspectives at each chapter. This was a clever technique to help you see inside the minds of the characters. I did not find it confusing to jump between different people as it felt like each chapter came to such a conclusive point, it was natural to switch to somebody else. Sometimes I even felt desperate to continue reading from one character’s point of view, keen as I was to know more!
One would expect that the family Riddell writes about would be open and honest with each other. However, the reality is far from different. The secrets that each person has, just indicates how much they really do not know one another; they are less like a family and more like separate units. The revelations come throughout the novel and were certainly not expected. In addition, the quick turn of events for the characters were also a surprise and I really liked the unforeseen way the plot developed.
I read Daughters of the Lake over several weeks but this did not impact my enjoyment. The novel is really easy to pick up again: not just because of its structure with character switching, but also because the characters are so memorable for their different behaviours. This is the first novel I have read by Jane Riddell and I look forward to discovering more of her writing.
I think my only criticism of the book was the novel’s beginning. I found it a little hard work to get stuck into and, for me, this made the first couple of chapters difficult to enjoy. Maybe it was because of the different viewpoints, that I could not get a chance to really know the people properly, or perhaps that I was reading little chunks at a time. If this is you, then I really recommend you keep going because the plot will draw you in.
If you thought being set in Switzerland, this family would have an enjoyable, scenic holiday and catch-up, you are very much mistaken. If anything, the fresh air seems to encourage honesty, drama and memories resurfacing.