A haunting debut novel that examines the price of loyalty, the burden of regret, the meaning of salvation, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, told in the voices of two unforgettable women linked by a decades-old family mystery at a beautiful, decaying lake house.
In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.
Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.
For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.
Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.
I'm always on the lookout for a good historical mystery and The Lost Girls about a little girl that went missing in 1935 sounded just perfect for me. And, it was a very good book where the answer to the mystery was not given straight away. Instead, we get to follow Lucy's memories from the notebook where she has written down what really happened to her little sister 60 years previous. In the present time has Lucy's grandniece Justine moved into Lucy's house after her death and there she tries to build a new life for her and her daughters. But, the past has a tendency to catch up. And, not just her own, but her family's past.
The book's story is interesting and deeply tragic and it kept me guessing right up until the end what really happened to Emily. The Lost Girls is a good title for the book because, in a way, the girls in the family are really lost as Emily's disappearance started a vicious cycle. Not that Lucy, Justine and the rest of the characters get lost in real life like Emily did. More like there is something in them that are lost. Something they are yearning for. They all have personal demons to deal with, even Justine eldest daughter who is not that old yet.
It's a very good book, well-written and thoughtful and sometimes deeply moving. And, so sad.