The Secret by the Lake – Louise Douglas

Published by Black Swan

19 November 2015

Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.


But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen. 


Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for this lovely book. This is the fifth book I have read by Louise Douglas and all have been very enjoyable. This one is no exception.

Amy hasn’t really had a happy family life of her own, and regards the Laurents as her family. As general companion and nanny to their young daughter Viviane, she lives with them in Paris and life is good.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. Amy is recalled back home for family reasons and then tragedy strikes the Laurents and they return to Somerset, to an old dilapidated family cottage to live. Julia Laurent asks Amy to return to them and this is where the story really begins.

There is a really creepy, supernatural aspect to this story and although I’m not easily spooked, there were times when I didn’t want to turn the lights out at night!

Both the cottage and the lake have distinct personalities of their own and are integral to the story. The lake can change from being a calm, peaceful and beautiful vision to something dark and menacing, whilst unhappiness seems to seep from the walls of the cottage and affects everybody within it.

Julia had an older sister, Caroline who died aged 17. There is obviously some deep mystery surrounding Caroline as Julia, in her distressed state doesn’t want to talk about her however when a malevolent presence is felt in the cottage and affects Viviane, Amy feels compelled to find out more.

Running alongside the unexplained and disturbing happenings at the cottage is a love story involving Amy.  Life at the cottage was sometimes so depressing and dismal that I was so glad for Amy that she found someone to bring some much needed lightness in to her life. However, even this has its problems and there are times when it seems that everyone is destined for unhappiness.

All the characters are so wonderfully drawn; Julia can seem so selfish at times and is so wrapped up in her own misery that everyone else is forgotten. There were times when my heart broke for Viviane, so young but unhappy and relying on her imaginary friends. Amy was the glue that held them together but even she couldn’t perform miracles.

This is a beautifully written, atmospheric and haunting story of intrigue, family secrets and complicity in lies. With a timeline starting in 1931 and then moving forward to 1961, this was an excellent read and one that I can happily recommend. I loved it and can add this to my list of other 5* reads by Louise Douglas. 

My thanks to Kim Nash for including me on the blog tour and to the publisher and Netgalley for the digital copy to read. 

About the author

Louise Douglas was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Somerset for the past twenty years. She has three sons and a partner who works in construction. She is the author of four novels, including The Secrets Between Us and In Her Shadow. 

When she is not writing, Louise is usually reading, walking with the family’s dogs, Lil and Lola, and spending time with her family and friends.

Talk to her on Twitter: @LouiseDouglas3 and visit her website at


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