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Black Lake Hardcover – 1 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755396294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755396290
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Beautifully written debut' (Fabulous Magazine, Sun on Sunday)

'Johanna Lane writes in an easy melodic style and she shows a real talent for understanding the separate sorrows and secret dreams that simmer beneath the surface of even the closest families' (Daily Mail)

'An elegantly written story' (Irish Mail on Sunday)

'Lane's prose is graceful, textured and her elegant style reflects the Campbells' glazed retrograde world' (Irish Independent)

'What won me over was the touching depiction of the two children' (Woman & Home)

'A beautifully atmospheric and poignant debut' (Bella magazine)

'I found I could not put this book down' (Woman's Way)

This ultimately becomes a story of the importance of home, whatever its history, told in highly lyrical prose' (Image magazine)

'A poignant and haunting tale that really resonates' (Evening Echo)

'A haunting debut' (Publishers Weekly)

In BLACK LAKE Johanna Lane accomplishes the nearly miraculous: she paints the world of her story with such care and skill that, before you know it, it will feel more real than your own. And you won't want to leave it. In Lane's hands the smallest details bloom with meaning, the quietest moments resonate with the power of truth. They make this novel big. It takes on the largest of themes, the thunder-clap moments of life, wresting from them a wisdom rare in any writing, and simply remarkable in a debut. Bit by gentle bit, this beautiful book will break your heart (Josh Weil, author of THE NEW VALLEY)

I cannot tell you how moved I was by BLACK LAKE... It was so beautifully written. Again and again I was caught up by the precise but unpretentious prose. I believed this story because of the voice, the voices, the details, the familiar yet strange things of these people's lives... Lane conveys without any mawkishness the loss of this lovely place in the lives of this family, and the loss in all our lives of a childhood place wherever and whatever it was... (Sheila Kohler, author of BECOMING JANE EYRE)

Johanna Lane's lovely novel is jeweled with shrewd insights into childhood and the way people relate to habitation and place. It's a book to admire and immerse yourself in (Amit Chaudhuri, author of THE IMMORTALS)

In this beautiful portrait of a family faced with unbearable loss, Lane reveals, not only what slips between the cracks in everyday communication, but also the secret loves and longings we all harbor, even if we never allow our hearts to speak, or our minds to dwell upon, what we need to say and hear, in order to continue as whole and undamaged spirits...a very, very good novel (John Burnside, author of THE GLISTER)

A lush, beguiling beauty, like the Ireland of its setting. Novels like this one don't get written very often; when they do we remember why we love novels in the first place (Elisa Albert, author of THE BOOK OF DAHLIA)

Book Description

Ireland. A home. A childhood.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By June Doll TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The novel is set in the country estate known as Dulough set on the wild Atlantic coast of Donegal. Dulough is Irish for Black Lake and the large house, built in the 1850s, is positioned next to the lake. This has been the home of the Campbell family since it was built, having been passed down through the generations. It is now owned by John Campbell and is occupied by John, his wife Marianne and his children Kate and Philip. When John's father died, he inherited the house while his elfer brother inherited the cash. John has struggled to keep the estate afloat and has had no option but to hand the estate over to the Irish government. Legally, he still owns the estate but he and his family have had to vacate the house and move to a small cottage which has been built for them on the estate. The house and gardens have now been opened to the public. A restaurant has been opened for the visitors and a a tourist information centre is planned. All profits will go to the Irish Government while John will receive a small salary.

The novel describes the impact this has on the Campbell family, not just the adults but also the children. All are distressed at the loss of their home. John is well aware that he has lost the home owned by his family for generations. Marianne has spent her entire married life on the estate and loves it just as much as her husband. The two children have had an idyllic childhood on the estate, running free and wild. Both were educated at home by their parents so have never even gone away to school. Philip, the son, is especially devastated and resents the visitors taking over what he still sees as his home.

The novel is very atmospheric. The location and the weather match the mood of the family. Donegal, where the estate is located, is wild and remote.
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By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Campbell family live on an estate, Dulough, founded in Donegal in the mid nineteenth century by the prosperous Philip the First who bought land cheaply after the Famine and who evicted tenants. Narrative commences in the present day with Marianne, wife of descendent John Campbell. She is holed up with daughter Kate in a disused ballroom at the top of John’s run down stately home which is being supported by the Government and opened to the public to offset John’s impoverished situation. Something is dreadfully wrong, but author Johanna Lane skilfully employs a shift back in time with accounts via John, Marianne, Kate, and son Philip to tell the story of ‘Black Lake’. She cleverly uses the writing of a history of Dulough by John and the old diaries of the wife of Philip the First to provide background.

Readers know immediately there has been a tragedy involving son Philip and the lives of the entire family have been disturbed. However much the parents are affected there are equally great problems for the children. ‘Black Lake’ explores family relationships, interactions and upheavals with all forms of secrets, stress and recriminations. It has a well written style and the narrative is full of tension, yet there is an inevitability about the plot that robs it of suspense. Both John and Marianne love their children but in different ways, and they react differently to their losses. Failures of communication between them are somewhat irritating but they are at the heart of the plot and underline the complexity of their marriage with John inheriting a rural estate and Marianne coming from a humble urban background. Personalities are well crafted and the writing may best be described as character driven, but the pace is disappointingly slow with reliance on feelings rather than actions, and there are loose ends for readers to ponder.
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By Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Languid with torpor and terrible in tone, Johanna Lane builds the detail of a seismic, transformative year in deepest Donegal, with a skilful, spare touch.

The mansion of Dulough and its environs is in crisis. The family can no longer afford to stay in what is still very much their home. A compromise has been struck with the Government, repairs in exchange for tourist access to what has been a secret world for generations. Dubious little deals have been done, a way ahead well intended, but possibly the cowardly option has been chosen.

Marianne, a fey but still grounded wife appears no match for John, the present owner. He has the weight of inheritance and history pressing on his shoulders. Duty and debt combine to almost destroy his sanity. John goes ahead with all the transfer of power without confiding until the last possible moment. Sleeping Philip, their son, is turfed out of bed unceremoniously by the removal men. Kate, his sister is more sanguine, she accepts her lot and carries on bravely bearing the weight of her parents dark misery, her sibling's detachment and real loss of place in the world.

We know from the off that tragic damage has hit this little family. It is how and why that keeps you reading. The slow, careful writing is exquisitely painful, moving and descriptive.

A pointer for all families as to what happens when you are busy making other plans. Taking your eye off the ball with small children is a highly dangerous occupation; selfishness, preoccupation and isolation does not match up with being a parent.

This is a marvellous book, restrained and paced, beautifully written. I was touched to read in the introduction that Johanna was at St. Andrews University, with which we have connections, but most of all that she was the recipient of the Hemingway Prize - given in memory of Daniel, a good friend of our daughter's.
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