Author: Liza Perrat
Category: Historical, Fiction, Psychological, Literary
A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
After a tragic family loss, Léa Bellefontaine decided to open a guest house on the shores of Lac du Héron, hoping it would help to ease her grief and get her marriage back on track. However, things aren’t working out quite like Léa hoped. It’s hard work running the Auberge and she and her husband, Bruno, who is the headmaster of the local school, always seem to be arguing. During one particularly fraught row their eight year old daughter, Juliette, with her dog, Belle, runs away in the midst of a storm. Juliette doesn’t return and the searchers can only find Belle.
Determined to get a long way from them this time, Juliette forgot to be afraid of the storm. Gripping Belle’s leash, she raced past the flowers, flattened beneath the pelting rain, and through the vine-covered pergola. She hoped her jay wasn’t frightened up in his oak tree and that the birds sheltering under the roof were safe from this wind and rain.
As Juliette reached the pathway that circled Lac du Héron, she sensed someone following her but she didn’t turn around.
Léa was living every parent’s nightmare, the thought of losing another child more than she could bear. Weeks turn into months with no word of Juliette, and Léa doesn’t know whether she was alive or dead. In the meantime more girls of a similar age go missing. The police, who at first didn’t seem too concerned now mount a full investigation, but they have no leads…the girls seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Léa’s story is told in the first person, so the reader can identify with her thoughts, which see-saw between hope and despair, while trying to cope with running the Auberge and navigating the complex family dynamics. We also get an omniscient insight into the motivations and manipulations of the perpetrator, his wife and sister and witness the plight of the missing children.
The setting (the Auberge on the outskirts a rural French village in the 1960s with its festivals and food, together with the atmospheric lake) and characters (likeable, not so likeable and completely mad) are brought to life vividly and, with an undercurrent of darkness, manipulation and menace, there’s also a sense of involvment. The authenticity of life in the village, the rumours that spread, the people that want to help but don’t quite know what to do and, of course, those who are predisposed to be prejudicial. I’ve enjoyed several of Liza Perrat’s books and this is no exception.
I chose to review Lake of Echoes for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on my own copy
Liza grew up in Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.