A heartwarming debut novel about the unlikely friendship between two outcasts of different generations who, in struggling to move on from the past, discover love, healing, and family in a charming New England lakeside community.
Achingly tender, yet filled with laughter, The Lake House brings to life the wide range of human emotions and the difficult journey from heartbreak to healing.
VICTORIA ROSE. Fifty years before, a group of teenage friends promised each other never to leave their idyllic lakeside town. But the call of Hollywood and a bigger life was too strong for Victoria . . . and she alone broke that pledge. Now she has come home, intent on making peace with her demons, even if her former friends shut her out. Haunted by tragedy, she longs to find solace with her childhood sweetheart, but even this tender man may be unable to forgive and forget.
HEATHER BREGMAN. At twenty-eight, after years as a globe-trotting columnist, she’s abandoned her controlling fiancé and their glamorous city life to build one on her own terms. Lulled by a Victorian house and a gorgeous locale, she’s determined to make the little community her home. But the residents, fearful of change and outsiders, will stop at nothing to sabotage her dreams of lakeside tranquility.
As Victoria and Heather become unlikely friends, their mutual struggle to find acceptance—with their neighbors and in their own hearts—explores the chance events that shape a community and offer the opportunity to start again.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Marci Nault hails from a town not too far from Lake Nagog in Massachusetts. Today she can be found figure skating, salsa dancing, hiking and wine tasting around her home in California. Marci is the founder of 101 Dreams Come True, a motivational website that encourages visitors to follow their improbable dreams. Her story about attempting to complete 101 of her biggest dreams has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and she regularly speaks on the subject on radio stations in both the United States and Canada.
Read an Excerpt
The Lake House
The last thirty hours hung heavily on Heather Bregman’s shoulders. The knot of pain at the base of her neck radiated to her forehead as the airport noise vibrated behind her eyes. Two days of flying in coach had left her exhausted. Yesterday, the man next to her had snored his way from Johannesburg to London with his large thigh pressed against her hip and his elbow dug into her waist. Whoever had decided that a human could be stuffed into a box with only a ten-degree recline should spend the rest of eternity folded in half, she thought.
The herd of passengers made its way to the baggage claim. Logan International Airport had the ambiance of a prison: dingy gray walls met grimy floors; fluorescent lights hung next to exposed heating ducts, bundled wires, and falling insulation. The airport had been under renovation since the late nineties, with no marked improvement.
A fur coat bumped against Heather’s arm. The owner flashed an apology as she ran past. Her thick, red hair flowed in long waves and her pearly skin radiated like a bright spring day. She threw herself into the waiting arms of a beau. The man kissed her lips, her eyes, and her cheeks.
It must be nice, Heather thought, while she waited for her luggage. Maybe on the other side of the automatic doors she’d find her fiancé, Charlie, waiting with a warm car. She didn’t need to feel precious or missed; at this point, a ride home would be romantic.
She thought of the hours she’d spent trying to decide on an outfit to wear before finally picking a red velvet jacket and designer jeans. The strappy shoes she’d bought in London sparkled around her fresh pedicure. For the last month she’d worn beige zip-off pants, tanks, and hiking boots on her African safari. Most days she’d felt like a dusty, sweaty mess. When she’d tried on the clothing she felt like a girl again, but for all her primping, she should’ve worn sweats. Charlie wasn’t coming and she knew it.
She twisted her engagement ring. The decision she’d made over the last month felt like a dumbbell pressed against her chest. She pulled the ring off and looked at her hand without the sparkling diamond against her tan skin. A white line marked the place. Great, she thought. I wonder how long it will take to fade.
Her black suitcase fell onto the conveyor belt. She placed the ring back on her hand and pushed through the crowd. She tried to balance in the tight space on her three-inch heels, and almost fell over when she lifted the sixty-pound bag.
As she waited for her duffel, the clock seemed to tick at half speed. For the twelfth time, the security announcement came over the loudspeaker. We get it already. Don’t leave our bags unattended.
An elderly couple stood beside her, their eyes puffy with fatigue. They leaned on each other, the woman tucked under the man’s arm. An ancient leather suitcase drifted along the conveyor belt. The man wasn’t quick enough to grab it, and Heather rushed forward. The awkward bag bumped against her leg as she hauled it to the couple.
“Thank you, dear.” The old woman placed her hand on Heather’s arm. The skin on the lady’s fingers looked like rice paper, blue veins showing through.
What was it like to be old? Heather wondered. Everything over. Mistakes known. Accomplishments checked off. No need to work. To have a home that showed years of wear and tear but exuded love from a lifetime of family memories. When you were old, no one cared how you looked. Sags and wrinkles were expected.
If Heather didn’t need to keep her frame in a size 6, she would eat chocolate and ice cream without guilt, and instead of exercising every day, she’d settle onto her couch and read. If career—and relationship—didn’t seem to hinge precariously on her looks, she wouldn’t have to spend hours curling or straightening her long, brown, highlighted hair just to pay hundreds of dollars to fix the heat damage, and she’d wear glasses instead of the contacts that irritated her brown eyes.
Settled. Comfortable. It seemed an eternity away.
At twenty-eight, she was struggling to build her career. Newspaper syndicates around the country had dropped her column, “Solo Female Traveler.” She needed that book deal, the cable show, and the sought-after television interviews.
The conveyor belt stopped. Empty. She dropped her head in disgust and trudged to the customer service counter. Just her luck: the bag with her coat, boots, and gloves hadn’t arrived. The click of her heels echoed in the near-empty airport. It took fifteen minutes to file a lost luggage claim, then she made her way to the taxi stand. Cold air cut through her thin jacket, and she hugged herself for warmth.
The traffic lanes usually congested with taxis, shuttles, and cars were now empty. Heather stood alone, surrounded by concrete, silence seeping in with the cold. She longed to lean her head against a warm body.
A security officer sat on his stool, his chin curled into his navy winter coat.
“Where are the cabs?” she asked.
“They headed out. There aren’t any more flights tonight. The hotel shuttle’s across the street. Last one’ll be by in a few minutes or you can catch the last T.”
The snow that had delayed her flight had turned to gray slush on the road. She cringed as she looked from the sloppy mess to her strappy heels, which she’d never intended to wear in the snow.
The suitcase wheels stuck in the slushy muck. She tried to hop to the driest spots, but ice and sand squished between her toes. At the bus stop, ten minutes passed. Her feet and hands turned to red and then yellow ice cubes as she sat on the plastic bench.
Spent. That’s how she felt. Exhausted to her marrow, as if she couldn’t take another step.
The blue-and-yellow shuttle pulled to the curb. The driver stepped down and grabbed her luggage. “Where ya headed?”
“I’ve got four stops before ya. It might take a while,” he said as he pulled her bag onto the van.
The T would’ve been quicker, but it was after midnight and she’d missed her chance. She climbed onto the van, found a seat, and leaned her aching head against the icy window.
A rainbow of lights flashed around her as the bus made its way along the slippery streets: the blue-and-orange clock face in the Custom House Tower; the glow of street lanterns made to resemble colonial candles flickering in glass.
Forty minutes passed and the van pulled in front of a row of brick townhomes. She dragged her suitcase up the stone steps that had been smoothed by hundreds of years of use and were now slippery with ice. The large mahogany door was heavy as she maneuvered her suitcase into the foyer and then through another door into the lobby.
Her heels clicking against the marble-tiled floor, she walked to the elevator, only to find that it was out of service. She sighed, picked up her suitcase with both hands, braced it against her thigh, and hauled it up the thirty-five stairs to the third floor, the bag banging against her leg.
A dark kitchen greeted Heather when she opened the door to the apartment. She turned on the overhead light and sat at the square metal table to peel off her shoes. The black-and-white ceramic floor tiles were cold and she pulled her toes under her thighs to warm them. The shoes dangled from her fingers, and she glared at the fiery red straps. “For how much I spent, these should make my legs look great and be comfortable.”
Exhaustion weighing heavily on her eyelids, Heather longed for a hot bath with bubbles up to her neck. She wanted to slide into a soft bed with down comforters fluffed over her and curl into warm, protective arms.
With paper towels, she wiped the slush track her suitcase had left on the tile, then she crammed the bag into a small closet.
Snorts of contented sleep greeted her when she creaked open the bedroom door. Charlie lay in the center of the bed splayed in all four directions. He turned onto his back, his six-pack exposed above his underwear. With his thick black hair and dark Italian eyes, he could grace the cover of a magazine.
Three short snores vibrated his throat. She looked at the stray piece of hair that fell over his eye. In their first years together, she’d tuck the strand into place and kiss his cheek. It had been a long time since she’d played with his hair. What had happened to them? There’d been a time when Charlie’s love had made her feel safe, secure, and happy.
Heather had spent the last six years on planes, in hotels, and exploring the world while Charlie worked as her agent, building her career. When Charlie looked at her, she felt he saw a columnist—another client in the string of people he’d made into products.
A burp of morning breath escaped Charlie’s lips when she leaned over him.
“Charlie, I’m home,” she whispered.
With his eyes closed, he reached for her waist and pulled her onto his body. His free hand moved under her jacket. “Good trip?”
Stubble chafed her upper lip, and she tried to keep her mouth closed to avoid his sour taste. He pulled at the jacket’s buttons.
“Charlie, I’m tired.”
“What’s new?” He rolled her away and turned his back to her.
A silk chemise hung on the bedpost. She removed her clothes and slipped into the cold garment. Goose bumps dotted her skin. She curled into the fetal position, the thin blanket pulled to her chin. Hot-blooded Charlie couldn’t sleep with a comforter.
The first night she’d spent in this apartment, Charlie had leaned against the headboard, her back against his chest and his legs wrapped around her waist, as they ate Thai food. He’d kissed her hair, nuzzled her neck, and told her she was beautiful. Now he couldn’t bother to meet her at the airport.
She turned toward Charlie and looked at his back. Heather had been away for a month, yet as she lay in bed next to her fiancé, her heart still cried with the need for home.
“Rise and shine!” Charlie threw open the green curtains behind their bed. The sun illuminated the darkened room with blinding brightness. Heather tried to cover her eyes with the pillow, but he grabbed it away, so she buried her face in the blanket. Charlie jumped on the bed, bouncing the mattress with his large frame.
“Why do you insist on doing this?” she snapped. They’d always kept different hours. He insisted on opening the curtains while he dressed for work. Sunlight put him in the right mood for the day. It made Heather pray for rainy mornings. She reached for the eye mask on the end table. The smooth material slipped between her fingers and fell to the floor. Charlie grabbed her wrist and rolled her to him, entwining their bodies. The sunshine pierced her retinas.
“If you don’t want weeks of jet lag, you have to get back on East Coast time.” He bounded from bed. “Want to join me in the shower?”
“You haven’t even showered?” He didn’t answer. She looked at the red LED lights on his nightstand—7:35.
Charlie’s baritone voice drifted over the water’s sound as he sang in Italian. She shuffled to the kitchen, pulled out the industrial-strength coffee she’d bought in Costa Rica, and leaned against the counter, waiting for the miraculous liquid to be ready.
The overhead track lighting blinked on, and Charlie walked into the room. The coffee began to drip into the pot, and she bent over the coffeemaker to take in the aroma. Covered by only a white towel, Charlie’s erection pressed into her backside. He wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned until her ribs pressed painfully into the granite counter.
“Want to go back to bed?” He nuzzled her neck.
“I’ve missed you,” he said as he nipped her ear.
“I’m tired.” She shifted her weight away from the counter and ducked out from under him.
“I’ve heard that one before.” He grabbed the pot and emptied it into the cup she’d taken from the cupboard for herself.
“Do you mind leaving some for the person who barely slept last night?” Heather fumed.
“You mean the one who just spent a month lounging around in safari camps? The one who doesn’t have to go into the office today? God, you’re grumpy this morning.” Charlie slurped from the cup and walked away.
Four aromatic ounces had collected in the pot. Heather poured them into Charlie’s Harvard Law mug and walked the short distance through the living room and into their bedroom.
The large closet housed Charlie’s elaborate collection of suits. He pulled a navy blue ensemble from the dry-cleaner bag and laid it on the bed. Then he inspected a pressed shirt. Always the same routine: lay out the suit, check for rogue stains or wrinkles, get dressed, fluff his hair in the mirror. His shoes were kept in the front closet. When he came home at night, he buffed them, inserted shoe trees, then stored them in cotton bags inside their original boxes.
Heather placed her mug on top of the bureau, knowing it would drive him crazy as he thought about water marks on the wood.
Like clockwork he looked at the cup and then glared at her. “I’m not in the mood for one of your tantrums. If you’re trying to pick a fight, I don’t have time.”
“I’ve heard that one before,” she said, mimicking his earlier comment.
He belted his pants and sat on the bed to put on his socks.
She tapped her foot, trying to control what was about to blow, knowing she should stop. She needed to have a conversation that was gentle and kind, but anger took over. “Maybe if someone had bothered to pick me up from the airport, I wouldn’t be so tired and grumpy this morning.”
“That’s what you’re pissed about?” He buttoned his jacket and looked in the mirror. “You got in close to midnight. I have an important meeting this morning—about your career. Did you want me to stay up all night waiting for you at Logan?”
“You were plenty awake for sex.”
“Excuse me for wanting to be with my fiancé after she’d been away for a month.” He returned to the bathroom and she could see him putting gel in his hair. He came out and grabbed a tie from the closet. “You know, sometimes you seriously act like a spoiled princess.”
“Oh, I’m a princess?”
“You get to travel the world because of me. Yet you come home and bitch because I don’t allow you to sleep all day. If the shoe fits.”
“And I have nothing to do with my success.” Her anger festered. He wasn’t listening to her. She tried to calm down, but the uncontrollable fury from feeling invisible forced the words out, “You know what, Charlie, I can’t do this anymore.” She took a shaky breath. “I think we need to take some time apart.”
The muscles in his jaw cranked with tension as he tucked a blue silk tie under the collar. He walked toward her and leaned his face within inches of hers. “You might want to be careful with what you say, or your life could change drastically. I’m going to work. We have an important networking event at the end of the week. Get over your damn tantrum and get it together.” He walked to the kitchen and she could hear him putting on his shoes. The chair scraped against the tile and then the door slammed.
A stifled scream rumbled in her lungs. She climbed onto the stiff mattress and tugged at the window covers. Damn curtains that shut out the light when he wants to sleep and brighten his day when he goes to work. Doesn’t matter that I fell asleep at 3 a.m. With the curtains closed and the room dark, Heather grabbed her coffee and slumped onto the bed. She created a cocoon around her body with the blanket as she cradled her mug.
“You don’t even pay attention when I try to break up with you,” she mumbled.
Heather curled the blankets closer and sipped the coffee. She longed for the coffee she drank in Africa. She let her thoughts wander back to her trip as she tried to calm her nerves.
Every morning at five o’clock, Manal, her guide in Botswana, would sing out her name. Hot coffee prepared with sugar, a splash of brandy, and heavy cream awaited her on the table outside her tent. Porridge, covered in more cream and brown sugar, greeted her when she took her place around the morning campfire. As the Okavango Delta’s cool dark waters gave birth to the blood-orange sun and monkeys tried to steal her silverware, she savored breakfast. Mid-morning, Manal would set up a table and camp chairs next to the open Land Rover and Heather feasted on scones and biscuits dipped in hot chocolate and watched giraffes nibble on the sausage tree’s long fruits. At night, while the kitchen staff sang, their cadences joined by hippo grunts and deep-throated lion calls, she and the other guests would stare at the stars and sip Amarula, the sweet, creamy liqueur of the marula tree.
Charlie was right. She’d spent a month living her dream of traveling and writing, and he’d helped her to achieve it. But that couldn’t mean that for the rest of her life she had to feel indebted to him . . . and invisible in their relationship.
A car horn honked. The rush-hour traffic on Storrow Drive motored past her apartment. Someone slammed a door and three car alarms screeched. As the city awoke outside her window, Heather longed for quiet.
From her overstuffed drawers, she grabbed a baggy sweatshirt and pink M&M’s flannel pajamas—which Charlie never saw—and threw on her glasses. In the kitchen she raised the thermostat from 60 to 75 and filled her coffee cup.
The refrigerator door hit against the table as she grabbed ingredients for a protein shake. She dug in the cabinets for the blender, but realized the glass pitcher was dirty in the dishwasher. Frustrated, she returned to the bedroom to get dressed and head out for breakfast. She opened the door to her tiny closet jammed with clothing and then closed it.
There wasn’t room for her in this apartment. Charlie used three-quarters of the storage space, citing the fact that she traveled most of the year and only needed access to her things on the rare occasion she was home.
Charlie’s black leather couch felt stiff and uncomfortable as she sat with her laptop. A website with lakeside houses for sale appeared on her screen. On nights when insomnia left her awake, she spent hours on the Internet taking virtual tours of the homes on the site. From her Favorites folder she clicked on a picture of a blue Craftsman bungalow. The bungalow had come on the market almost two months ago. To lull herself to sleep she fantasized about owning it and having cookouts with friends, parties with dancing, sunny days on the beach.
As a young child, Heather had lived in a rented lake house with her grandmother and mother. Heather tried to remember her grandmother’s face, but it was like catching a dream. She had glimpses of memories: the gold chain that hung from her glasses, gray and black hair that tickled Heather’s neck when they hugged, and sticking out blue tongues at each other when they sat in the blueberry bushes eating berries. Heather remembered sun-warmed towels after a dip in the lake.
Their five-room house had shelves filled with knickknacks of blown glass animals and porcelain figurines. Pink crocheted cozies covered tissue boxes on end tables. In the living room her grandmother or mother would rock her to sleep to the sounds of a crackling fire and the women’s soft voices.
What Heather remembered best were the sweet smells of homemade bread and ginger cookies. Her grandmother loved to bake. The scent of molasses permeated the brown paneled walls and green carpets. Almost every afternoon, her grandmother would take down the yellow Bisquick box and measure out the water and flour mix. She’d roll it out on the table with Heather sitting in a chair next to her. Then, with a juice glass, Heather cut out perfect circles for biscuits. She’d sneak little corners of the dough and she still recalled the slight metallic taste of baking soda and salt.
When Heather was five, her grandmother passed away, and Heather’s mother tried to pay the rent on the lake house, but after two years she’d put herself so far into debt, they were forced to move.
Heather closed the laptop and placed it on the coffee table. Charlie had paid for the apartment and their living expenses for the last six years; he opened her Visa and American Express statements before she saw them, and he allowed her a budget for luxury clothing as a business investment. She didn’t see her own paychecks; they were deposited directly into their joint account. He said all this was necessary because she spent so much time on the road and he felt she couldn’t be trusted with her own finances.
She looked around the ten-by-ten living room. The brick wall held a sixty-inch flatscreen TV that overpowered her senses when it was on. Sports Illustrated magazines had been neatly piled on the glass coffee table. The leather couch squeaked as she stood. Nothing about this place felt like home to her.
Charlie had threatened her career if she left. In everyone else’s eyes she had the perfect life, but . . .
Before she could change her mind, she picked up her cell phone and dialed Information. “Littleton, Massachusetts,” she said. “RE/MAX Realty.” Whether or not she could buy the house, it was time to make a change.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The Lake House includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Marci Nault. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In The Lake House, Heather Bregman, a young travel writer who is reeling from ending her engagement to her fiancé and agent, purchases a quaint lakefront house in rural Nagog, Massachusetts, with hopes of creating a home for herself. Unbeknownst to Heather, her dream house is part of a tight-knit community of people all over the age of seventy who are none too happy about an outsider moving into their neighborhood. She finds comfort in Molly, a Nagog native who has spent her entire life living within the community, and in Victoria, a former movie star who is returning to Nagog to repair relationships damaged by a lifetime of leaving town whenever tragedy strikes. Bridging an almost fifty-year age difference, Heather and Victoria form an inseparable bond as they both attempt to overcome demons from their pasts and earn the community’s trust and respect. And despite the reluctance of Heather’s new neighbors and Victoria’s childhood friends, the two women eventually find acceptance, love, and a true home.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Both Victoria and Heather are trying to earn the Nagog community’s acceptance in order to make a home in the town. If you were Heather, would you need to make friends with your new neighbors before you truly felt at home? Do you think this is unique to a small town like Nagog?
2. When Victoria returns to Nagog, she is met with hostility from her childhood friends. Do you think their anger is justified? Does Victoria deserve a second chance from them? Explain why or why not.
3. As the story unfolds, we learn that Victoria’s old friends are not only bitter about her infamous sudden departures from Nagog but also with her arrogant and aloof behavior when she actually was in town. What do you think upset each character more? If you were them, what would upset you the most?
4. Victoria describes Molly as “brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla [. . .] homemade bread cooling on the kitchen windowsill” (p. 2). Is this description accurate? How would you describe Molly? Have you met a Molly figure in your own life?
5. While Victoria and Heather had successful careers, both women are struggling to find fulfillment in their relationships and friendships. Do you think it’s possible, as Molly tells Victoria, to have both a prolific career and a happy home life? How would you achieve that balance?
6. Molly takes it upon herself to reunite Victoria with her estranged group of friends, but her efforts only caused fighting and more tension. Do you think it was right of Molly to try to force reconciliation? What would it take for Agatha and Sarah to accept Victoria again?
7. During one of their arguments, Victoria tells Sarah that “life is a hassle only if you make it one” (p. 104). Given all Victoria has lived through and lost, do you think she believes her own statement? Do you agree with it?
8. Heather’s new neighbors reject her arrival partly because it is indicative of a greater generational change. While their situation is unique to the novel, do you think that fear is universal for older generations? Why or why not?
9. After trying to ignore her new neighbors’ sabotage efforts, Heather finally erupts at them—a response she later regrets. How would you have handled the situation? Was Heather’s anger justified?
10. In an effort to earn the community’s acceptance and make amends for her outburst, Heather starts planting love letters in her mailbox for Evelyn to find. This act earns her more respect than her previous attempts to ignore the negativity. Why? Do you think, as Heather wonders, that “she had found a way into the community by caring about their lives” (p. 356)?
11. Heather separates herself from her condescending and manipulative fiancé twice, first by ending the engagement and then by firing him as her agent. Which decision seemed more difficult for her? Did you think Charlie would remain her agent after she ended their relationship?
12. It took almost the entire novel for romantic relationships to blossom for Victoria and Heather, and both the women and their men had to overcome personal obstacles in order to be happy. Despite those obstacles, did you suspect that Victoria and Joseph, and Heather and Tommy, would ultimately get together in the end?
13. When Victoria becomes irate at Heather’s return to Boston, Molly responds by saying, “You’re angry because Heather forces you to face the mistakes you feel you’ve made” (p. 344). Do you agree with Molly’s assessment? Explain why or why not.
14. Molly’s health crisis and subsequent recovery ultimately brings the community closer together, including Heather and Victoria. How different would the ending have been if Molly hadn’t survived? Would it have drastically changed the other characters’ relationships?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Channel your inner Molly! Prepare your favorite comfort food or baked good to enjoy during your book club discussion.
2. Much of The Lake House is about revisiting past memories, good and bad. Take your own trip down memory lane by bringing a childhood relic to or sharing a favorite memory with your book club.
3. Finishing The Lake House was part of author Marci Nault’s life project, 101 Dreams Come True. Learn more about Marci and her inspirational project by visiting the website at: www.101dreamscometrue.com.
4. While the Nagog in The Lake House is fictional, there is a Village of Nagog Woods in Acton, Massachusetts. Do a little research on Acton and the real Nagog, and have your book club discuss whether they share any similarities with the story’s town.
A Conversation with Marci Nault
The Lake House primarily follows Victoria and Heather, two women in different stages of life who have successful careers but are ultimately searching for more. What was your inspiration for these characters? Did you always plan to have such a large generational gap between them?
The idea for this novel came from a nighttime dream where I found the house I’d always wanted but when I moved in I realized everyone was over the age of seventy. When I woke, I knew I needed to write the story. So, yes, I always intended for the women to have a large generational gap.
I never really thought about what inspired me to write these characters. I think that some of the ideas came from my emotions and life, but for the most part the characters grabbed hold and took me on a journey. It’s almost as if I met them in person (though they were only my imagination) and they told me their stories. Victoria had a way of waking me in the middle of the night to talk. I spent months writing her character at four in the morning. I loved hearing her story, but I hated those months of insomnia. I remember waking up at eleven in the morning with my head on my desk and I had typed pages of jjjjkkkkk. Heather started off being a character I would never want to spend time with. This story was originally a comedy, but it turns out I’m not that funny. Heather was ultramodern and a party girl, and the elderly people, determined to get rid of her in order to keep their way of life, wreaked havoc on her home. As I matured as a writer, and as my characters spoke to me, a whole new plot came to life. The story became more about the demons Victoria faced. Then Heather showed herself to be a young woman who thinks she needs success more than anything but in reality she needs to find a way home. Their friendship became the pivotal healer in both their lives. I wanted to make these women strong and independent, but with a need for softness in their lives—a safe place to land where they found the love they’ve always needed. The loneliness that you see Heather and Victoria experience was very similar to how I felt the first years I lived in California. I felt out of place and without a home, and in some ways, creating Nagog gave me comfort.
There is an array of characters in The Lake House, from gentle Molly to womanizing Thomas. Which character was the most fun to create? Do you identify with one character in particular? T
homas was absolutely the most fun to write. Creating his scenes always made me laugh. I love Molly and she reminds me of my greatgrandmother who always enveloped me in a soft hug of bosom and belly. But I created a special bond with Victoria.
I can’t relate to Victoria’s loss except through what she shared with me (and I know I’m talking about her as if she were real, but sometimes characters feel that way) though in some ways I relate to her need for a bigger life and her fear that if she went home she’d stay safe. Living in California, I’ve been torn between the life I’ve chosen and missing my family in Massachusetts. I get to travel the world and I choose to go after my biggest dreams instead of settling into family life. I have a distinct desire to explore everything this world has to offer and yet a need to be wrapped in the comfort of home. There are times when I wonder if I’ll regret my choices later in life because I’ve spent so much time away from my family. Thank goodness for Skype, which allows me to feel like I’m at a family dinner every Wednesday night.
While Nagog is a fictional town, did you base it on a real-life counterpart, such as the Village of Nagog Woods in Acton, Massachusetts?
There’s a wildlife sanctuary in Acton with a path that leads to Nagog Pond. When I lived in that area, I would walk through the woods until I reached the dock. It’s a wonderful place to get lost in thought. In a place devoid of houses and roads, I found serenity sitting on the dock watching bright dragonflies flit around me while the fish jumped out of the lake to catch bugs. I was so excited when I saw the cover of the book because it replicated this place beautifully.
Littleton town center is exactly as I described in the book. When you drive through town you’re transported back to a simpler time— well, except for the large Mobil station sign on the corner. When I was a child we’d drive out to Littleton and go to Kimball’s Ice Cream. The lines were so long that sometimes it took an hour to get a sundae, but on a hot summer night it was worth the drive and the wait for the homemade treats. I think fond memories of eating ice cream under the stars in Littleton, Massachusetts, is why I chose this setting.
It took Molly’s health issues for Victoria to finally face the loss of Annabelle. Did you always intend for Molly to have a cataclysmic collapse? Were there any other plot twists you considered to help Victoria to come to terms with her granddaughter’s loss?
I was actually shocked when Molly collapsed. Writers are sometimes just along for the ride and we don’t know what’s going to happen until it actually does. I was walking on a quiet country road in a snow- storm in Lenox, Massachusetts, when I saw Molly’s collapse and I knew that it had to be part of the story. Molly was Victoria’s only real touchstone to Nagog. As Victoria tried to move forward after Annabelle’s death she was distraught with guilt. I think many times in life when we haven’t dealt with an issue our lives seem to replay the same emotions no matter what the circumstances. Molly collapsing was a way to bring out Victoria’s pain and the blame she felt for her granddaughter’s death. This scene came to me in one of the first drafts, so I never considered another plot twist.
What is your favorite scene in the book, and why?
I cry every time I read the scene where Joseph and Victoria are on the beach having dinner. The tears always start when she gets up and sits in his lap, asking him to make love, knowing he’s nervous, and says to him, “Relax, I’ll wait.” They’re the same words he said to her as a teenager and I think it shows the tenderness, love, and desire they’ve had for each other their whole lives.
Another favorite is the one where Tommy and Heather are sitting on her front deck drinking root beer floats. I mean what woman hasn’t fantasized about a nice summer evening, stargazing and flirting with an incredibly hot guy. But I also love this scene because it brings out these characters’ personalities beyond their personal problems.
Victoria and Heather head to Nagog to find a sense of belonging, and all the characters in The Lake House have spent their lives either searching for or nurturing their homes and families. Do you have a place like Nagog that you consider your true home?
My grandfather built my grandparents’ home when my mother was a young girl. When I was a kid, my family would go to their house every Sunday afternoon and on holidays. I would play with my brother and my eight cousins, racing up and down the hallway, playing wiffle ball in the backyard, and before we left getting hugs and kisses from everyone. Before I moved to California, I lived around the corner from my grandparents’ house and many afternoons I would stop in unannounced. We’d sit at the kitchen table eating homemade cookies while my grandparents shared stories of their youth. My grandfather passed away before the publication of this book, but my grandmother still lives in the house with my mother as her caretaker. When I go home to Massachusetts I visit my grandfather’s sugar shack in the backyard where he would make maple syrup, boiling the tree sap down to a dark amber color. I can still taste his blueberry pancakes drenched in maple syrup.
There are multiple motifs in The Lake House, including loss, friendship, and acceptance. What do you consider to be the main theme(s) of the novel?
I feel the main theme is the human need for a place to belong— for home. Our world is so fast-paced these days that it seems like time is slipping away as everything speeds up. I think with our technology and the ability to travel and communicate with the world through the web, we’ve lost a little of what Nagog represents. I wanted to create a story that brought people back to that need for human connection and a slower pace of life that has a deeper quality to it. I wanted to show that there’s an intrinsic need to be part of a family, to feel accepted for exactly who you are, and that no matter the age, this need doesn’t change.
If you could choose one message or lesson for your readers to take away from The Lake House, what would it be?
I want people to realize that our elders are important in our lives. We can learn from their stories and their life experience. We tend to care so much about youth and fear age that we don’t want to see our elderly. When I was researching this book I spoke to women from the World War II generation, and I have to say that they told the best stories. I was surprised by their spunk and liveliness in spite of illnesses or injuries. I think we’ve lost something in our lives by dismissing older people because they might not keep up with modern technology or are possibly set in their ways. We have this idea that life is over after a certain age, but in truth many people fall in love, travel the world, or take up new sports in their final years.
Also, sometimes what we think we want in life is the exact opposite of what we really need. If Heather had moved into a community with all young people she probably would’ve continued to be uncertain of herself, always trying to keep up with what she believed she should be. By moving into a place where everyone was older, she was able to gain confidence and find what her heart desired.
The Lake House is your first published novel, and according to your 101 Dreams Come True website, it took years to complete. What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you? What was the most enjoyable?
I’ve never been a patient person. The saying, “God grant me patience now!” has always been my motto. Writing takes incredible patience. This book took many revisions, in part because there were so many characters and it spanned many years with numerous flashbacks, and also in part because I was a new writer learning the craft. Each time I did a revision I wanted to finish it as quickly as possible, but writing doesn’t work that way. The characters speak when they’re ready. Sometimes I have no choice but to work around the clock and at other times I stare at the television hoping my emotional and mental state will fire up.
Then there’s the waiting while your agent or editor read what you’ve written. I signed with Foundry Literary and Media with Yfat Reiss Gendel and I thought that I would be published within months. But Yfat was only going to shop my book when she felt it was perfect and when she felt she could match me with the best house and editor. This took years and I woke most mornings wondering if my dream would ever come true.
But there’s something magical about finding a storyline or figuring out a plot. I feel fulfilled when a story is buzzing in my brain. I love getting to know my characters and seeing the world through their eyes: I laugh, fall in love, cry, and get ticked off with them. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to write and share my stories with people.
Now that The Lake House is finished, what is next on your 101 dreams list? Do you have any plans for future novels?
I’ve already begun my second novel. It’s going to be a busy year as The Lake House makes its way to publication and I try to pursue as many of the dreams on my list that I can. I’m already taking tango lessons, launching a new bridal company, and planning to play on a trapeze and bungee jump. I’m going to travel through the canyons of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, and overseas. All the while I intend to keep writing, salsa dancing, and figure skating.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"The Lake House" is a refreshing and timely read for this generation. It's the story of an era nearly lost, actually, when friendships were close and communities were tight-knit; as well as what happens when one or two of the "flock" step out of the mold and then come "home." It's also the story of what makes a place a "home" and what constitutes family in a broader sense. Part love story, coming of age, and coming to grips with loss and grief, this is the perfect book for those who love one that tells a rich and heartfelt tale. It's a great read for any place and time...not only for beachy, summer days, but throughout the year when you want to be taken away to a sort of Nicholas Sparks place and time. Marci Nault is an accomplished writer. She's a fine character interpretor with an eye for the depth and meat of angst and reality. Her people are carefully created and beautifully developed so that they could be your every day friends and neighbors. Her love interests ring true to life and break your heart with their easy and touching ways. She stealthily causes them to plant themselves before you realize it, making it impossible to stop reading her novel until you find out what happens to all of them in the end! I'm not one who loves "chick lit," so don't look for this to be in that category. It's much more than that. Better writing, stronger storyline, a more unique grip on human relationships... I think you'll really like this book for the summer.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I have to say I loved this book. I was drawn in right from the beginning. Very well written and full of colorful and believable characters. I was an excellent love story...very emotional and tender and I was very satisfied with the ending. Overall, I give it 5 stars.
*Copy provided by Netgalley for an unbiased review* This was an enjoyable read for the most part. I liked the premise, I liked most of the characters. I did find the occasional lapse of logic in their actions or dialog, but it was good overall, although predictable. I particularly liked the premise of a neighborhood of homes all passed down in the families, despite some of the tensions among the individual owners. Much of the story is told in flashbacks interspersed with what's happening in the "present", so it takes a while to understand some of the characters' background and motivations, and occasionally that's a bit frustrating. Overall, a nice story about friendship, love, and second chances.
U got locked out again *laughs*
Reading this book was like being wrapped in a blanket in your grandmother's living room. It was slow and quiet and pleasant. I enjoyed reading it and it would be wonderful for a lazy summer day or a quiet fall or winter day as the rain or snow fell outside.
Beautifully written. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in the book. They started to feel like family to me. I felt like I was right there with them. This book brought on a lot of different emotions too as I got to know each and every one of them. Victoria Rose is a glamorous actress and model who traveled the world doing movies and stage. She returns to her childhood home to retire with all her friends from the past. Some are happy to see her, others not so. Can she mend the friendships that were hurt in the past? How long will it take for her to heal from the tragic loss of her daughter and grand daughter? Heather Bregman has recently split up with her long time boyfriend and career manager. She buys her dream house on the lake and plans to relax and do some writing for her newspaper column and book. But, rushing into buying this house, she doesn't realize everyone living in this lake side community are older retired people. All sorts of mishaps and things breaking at her house leave her wondering if she made a mistake. Heather becomes very good friends with Victoria. Will they be able to help each other move away from the pains of the past and into the future and find happiness in each of their lives? This was an incredible book that I just wasn't ready for it to end. I'm already missing everyone.
The small community of Nagog is filled with memories, both joyful and painful for Victoria Rose. As children, Victoria and her friends promised to stay together in their tight-knit community. However, as Victoria grew, she knew the small town life wasn’t for her. She had dreams of being an actress. She broke her promise and left the community, breaking the hearts of her friends, and her childhood sweetheart. After a life haunted by tragedy, Victoria seeks refuge in the community she abandoned, with the former friends that she only visited occasionally during her younger years. As Victoria seeks forgiveness and acceptance, she finds an unexpected friend in Heather Bregman. After breaking up with her fiancé, Heather buys a house in the Nagog community, while she continues to build her career as a travelling journalist. Though the house seemed to be the perfect place for her to write, Heather soon learns that the members of the community wouldn’t accept a young outsider into their midst. Plagued by sabotage, Heather finds Victoria to be one of her only friends in the neighborhood. The two women, though separated by many years, begin the mutual struggle of finding acceptance in a community that closed their doors to them, and perhaps find love along the way. The Lake House is a wonderful read. The details are crisp and concise, allowing the reader to see and feel the things that the characters are feeling. I almost felt like a member of the community of Nagog as I read along. The book does a marvelous job of spanning the gap between the generations. It looks blatantly at where the choices one makes as a youth affects the rest of one’s life. All the characters in The Lake House have rich back stories, and though I got frustrated with the characters’ actions at times, the back stories helped me to understand where each character was coming from and what motivated their actions. Both the romances of Victoria and Heather were quite believable. Neither was overdone, or too sappy. I loved reading and exploring the friendships in this book. This book is wonderfully well written. I have only one criticism to make, which is that the ending seemed slightly rushed to me. It felt like everything had been so gradually and wonderfully built up and explored, and then everything just fell into place quite quickly and the book ended. All of the loose ends were wrapped up; I just wish that the events that wrapped them up would have been as thorough as the rest of the book. This book was received from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. Rating: 4 Heat Rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilP Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More