The House by the Lake by Ella Carey is historical romance, mystery and in many ways, a reminder of a past that can too easily be repeated. Watch the video below or at https://youtu.be/umxbkxOpuXU or skip below the video to read the full review.
Max is part of the privileged, elite German class who has fallen in love with Isabella from Paris, France. But Adolf Hitler is rising and so is his Nazi party. There are many things about the Nazis that Max does not like, such as their hatred of minorities, but he is willing to a certain extent to look away from that because Hitler appears to be the only one offering Germany a way forward from its crushing defeat of World War I. Too late, he realizes that despite all his reservations, he will be forced to join the Nazi party and the military as Germany begins to invade its neighbors. Not only does his own life hang in the balance but also every member of his family’s lives depends on his choice.
As we switch to the present day, Anna lives in San Francisco with her aging grandfather. Max is now at the end of his life, and he has one regret. He asks Anna to return to Germany to recover an item he’d hidden below the floorboard. As she journeys to Old Prussia to perform what turns out to be Max’s dying wish, she finds herself in the midst of a mystery. The village near her grandfather’s old estate is stuck in the distant past like a ghost town and when they discover her identity and her relationship to the estate, many become hostile toward her. She finds a Berlin attorney willing to help her recover the item but it places both of them on a path that will uncover secrets of the past and change their own lives in the process.
Max’s position in the 1930s and the choices he must make remind me all too much of the rise of current nationalism, along with its consequences. It is well worth reading; not only is it a war-time romance between a French woman and a German man and a personal mystery that affects generations, but also a lesson in what happens in the early stages of a party’s rise to power, the ability for people to look away from those aspects they don’t like… and what happens when their eyes are opened too late.