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Black Lake [Hardcover]

Johanna Lane
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: £16.99
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Book Description

1 May 2014

For generations, the Campbells have lived happily at Dulough, an idyllic, rambling estate on the windswept coast of Ireland. But upkeep has drained the family coffers. Faced with the heartbreaking possibility of having to sell, John Campbell makes a very difficult decision; to keep Dulough he will turn the estate into a tourist attraction. He and his wife, daughter and son will move from the luxury of the big house to a small, damp caretaker's cottage. The upheaval strains the already tenuous threads that bind the family, and when a tragic accident befalls them, long-simmering resentments and unanswered yearnings are forced to the surface.

As each character is given a turn to speak, their voices tell a complex and fascinating story about what happens when the upstairs becomes the downstairs, and the legacy that remains when family secrets are revealed.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (1 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0755396294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755396290
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 883,862 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)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and atmospheric 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lyrical and atmospheric read 19 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Black Lake is the English translation of Dulough, the house where the Campbell family have lived since the mid-1800s. The current owner, John, is in financial difficulties and agrees a deal with the Irish government that they will take over the running of the house and turn it into a tourist attraction with a visitor centre, restaurant and minibuses of people coming to walk around his and his family's home. John, his wife Marianne, and their children, Kate and Philip, move into a cottage on the estate, but not long after a tragedy befalls them.

This is a very lyrical and atmospheric read. The prologue is quite odd in that no names are mentioned and I wasn't sure at that point if I would be able to get on with the book, but then I started the rest of the book and got really stuck into it. I read it in two large chunks (it's a fairly short book) and I think that's the way to tackle it as it would really lose flow if read in short bursts.

As the reader, I got a real sense of the house and the estate and this aspect was very well-written. I was also able to understand how devastating it was for the family to not only give up their home but then to have strangers tramping all over it.

I really enjoyed this book. It's descriptive and gentle and was a pleasure to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone needs somewhere to call their own. 19 July 2014
By Mrs. Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Spooky 26 Aug 2014
By BusyReader VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well written and engrossing , but the ending of the novel is at it's start !
The tale involves a previously grand affluent Irish family whose fortunes take a downturn owing to the costs of living and maintaining their estate, Dulough, and thus the manor house has to be passed over to the government.
Each member of this family are then affected in different ways as having grown with the estate for the whole of their lives , and been part of the house, this ownership and responsibility change affects each of them in different ways. None of which are very nice!
It's a spooky engrossing novel , a bit dark in parts. However it makes you think about how your environment and home can affect yourself!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable.
This is an enjoyable read. It is full of atmosphere and keeps you on your toes up to the end of the book.
Published 19 hours ago by Lily
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read, good transaction
Published 13 days ago by kevin forrest
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
This is a short and bittersweet tale of an Irish family suffering a fall from fortune, and having to sit by as their family home is overrun by paying visitors. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Thomas Pots
5.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere to Hide
This novel explores the consequences of poor communication, addressing it from many angles in an admirably human way. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sandford
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Lake
Author,Johanna Lane creates an intelligent work with her look at how the political and cultural changes which took place in Ireland in the 20th century, shaped the lives of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Arthur Dooley
4.0 out of 5 stars THE ANCESTORAL HOME
Thanks to Goodreads - Giveaway, the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.
Black Lake is a heart rendering story of relationships and the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gloria
This is a slim debut novel that really packs a punch. The storytelling is so interesting, right from the beginning you are aware that a tragedy has befallen the family. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. C. Swarfield
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but heartbreaking
There's a core of unbearable sadness at the heart of Black Lake. The Campbells, an impoverished Irish aristocratic family, have lost stewardship of their beloved house Dulough. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Book Critic
1.0 out of 5 stars not for me
Much as i tried to get into this book,it wasn't for me.It failed to grab my interest and,truthfully,i found it boring.I'm amazed at the great reviews others have left. Read more
Published 3 months ago by s
5.0 out of 5 stars a deep and very dark novel
The novel begins in fact with the end: the peak of events is right here, in the initial chapter, and everything that happens on the following pages is the background, the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ray Garraty
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