The Shadow Year
by Hannah Richell
published by Orion Publishing
I love when She Reads picks a book that I might not have reached for myself, and The Shadow Year is just such a book. It is the story of two narrators in two separate times, drawn together by a beautiful lake and a charming cottage. In 1980, five friends decide to take a year off and drop out of civilization together in a small cottage by a lake. 30 years later, Lila is recovering from a debating miscarriage when she receives a letter from a solicitor informing her that she has been left a key to a small cottage. Lila tries to heal herself and the cottage, spending weeks away from her suffering husband while she renovates.
I am usually a fan of the dual narrative, and it works well here. I thought this book was very well written and the story captivating. These are the pro of the book. Unfortunately, the downside was one I just couldn’t get past. In the part of the book that takes place in the 1980’s, there are five characters. Kat is the narrator, and she is sharing the cottage with her four friends. Put simply, I despised Kat. She was an awful person. The only other character in this part of the book that we get to know at all is Simon, and he is pretty awful too. The other characters are not fleshed out much, therefore there wasn’t someone to balance out these two. It reminded me a little of the end of The Dinner, with all those awful people. I did love the part with Lila. I enjoyed rooting for her to get past her pain, and slowly fall in love with the beautiful cottage and lake as she slowly renovates it. I wish I could go and relax by that beautiful lake!
Head over to She Reads and check out other reviews of this book!
On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?
I felt the same way about this one. As a writer, I think some sympathy for Kat could have been worked in by showing us more of her childhood issues that made her so desperate and insecure. But I just couldn’t get my head around someone who would kill her younger sibling – her only flesh and blood – for a rotten creep like Simon.
She is a lovely writer, though. I really liked her prose. It was the characterization and motivations that didn’t work, for me.
The cover of this one is so lovely! I’m not a fan of unlikable main characters though so I’m not sure if I would pick this one up. I’m glad there was great writing, a captivating story and one great character to get your through it!
I enjoyed Hannah Richell’s debut and dual time-lines but not such a big fan of unlikeable characters… Still tempted though 😉
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I just got this one from NetGalley. Too bad the characters weren’t more likable.
Hmm, I’d been thinking of giving this one a try, but your review makes me feel like it’s not such a priority. It sounds like there were some really good elements, but overall not a success. Oh well.
I hadn’t heard of this one, but it sounds interesting! Lila’s journey sounds interesting, even if the other characters aren’t very enjoyable!
I’ve seen this one somewhere, but can’t remember where. I do like the cover and I’d like to give it a read. Ps: I love your blog’s new look.