Book Title and Author: The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick
Publication Date and Publisher: February 26, 2019 by Graydon House
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: December 22, 2018 (paper arc)
Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.
Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…
250 Years Later…
When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can’t tell what is real and what is imaginary.
As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.
I read The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick a couple of months ago and just fell in love with Cornick’s writing! I love how quickly she managed to transport me to a completely different place and time period with her lyrical writing, and she succeeded it again with her newest novel, The Woman in the Lake, only this time the setting is England in the present and a quite surprisingly decadent and sensual Georgian England in the past.
The novel is suspenseful right from the first page, which drew me in immediately! I couldn’t stop turning the pages of the book as each of the three narrators, Lady Isabella and her lady’s maid Constance in 1765 and Fenella in present-day, give their own harrowing and often times tormenting accounts of what transpires across the centuries.
It is a gorgeous golden gown that once belonged to Lady Isabella that mysteriously binds the three together in this story. The gown is a gift from Lady Isabella’s cruelly abusive husband Lord Gerard, a gift Isabella defies him by not accepting and orders Constance to destroy. Yet, the gown seems to have dark, otherworldly powers that no thing should possess since somehow Fen ends up with the gown in the present day. It slowly begins to control her actions and mind until disaster threatens very near.
Cornick did an excellent job weaving the story back and forth from Georgian times to present day. I love how descriptive she is with her settings and characters and could at times imagine that I was there with Lady Isabella, a character who I truly loved! Although I loved Fen and Constance (who was quite the surprise at the end!), Isabella is a special, multifaceted, strong-willed woman that I ended up greatly admiring. I love exceptional characters and for me, Cornick’s characters are exactly that because they are just so well characterized with their realism, complexity, flaws, and character growth!
If you haven’t read Cornick’s books, then you might not know that she adds a few supernatural elements into her narrative as a way to connect the past and present storylines together, and this book was no different! I always enjoy a story with a good supernatural element, and I think she does it well–it’s not overdone but just right.
The Woman in the Lake is a story teeming with mystery, hatred, envy, revenge, suspense, and dark evil. Yet more than that, it’s a story about three women who against the odds and against the darkness that threatens to defeat them must find strength, empowerment, and a way to prevail.
I know after loving the two books that I’ve read by Cornick that I plan to not only read her backlist and can’t wait to read what she writes next! The Woman in the Lake publishes on February 26, 2019 and if you love historical fiction, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy!
**Thank you to Graydon House for an ARC copy to read and review in exchange for my fair and honest review.**