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Library Journal Review
John and Marianne Campbell live with their children, Kate and Philip, at Dulough, the Donegal estate named after nearby Black Lake. Because it was willed to John without the funds to maintain it, he brokers a deal with the government to renovate and open Dulough to the public, shunting his family to a small cottage on the grounds. These changes disrupt the Campbells' seemingly idyllic life. Does the move destabilize the family? Or does it simply reveal existing instabilities among them? Young Philip seeks escape from the turmoil around him by building a hut on an island in Black Lake, an ultimately tragic fancy that further undermines the entire family. -VERDICT A contemporary writer of great promise whose book reads like a classic, debut novelist Lane skillfully demonstrates how grief both erodes and reinforces the bonds of a family. Her subtle, crystalline style calls to mind the prose of Colm Toibin; her narrative pacing is reminiscent of Kate Chopin's. [See Prepub Alert, 11/3/13.]-John G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Dulough, an imposing castle, stands by the sea in the far northern reaches of Ireland, where it has been inhabited by the Campbells since its completion in 1857. Lane's haunting debut novel is a character study of the mansion and the last generation of Campbells to call it home. Dulough is isolated even from the nearby town of Donegal, yet the estate, with its steep cliffs and howling winds, has a magnetic pull, changing the lives of everyone who lives there. Upkeep on the castle is expensive, and without new money coming in, John Campbell must turn it over to be run as a museum. He, his wife Marianne, and their children move into a cottage on the grounds and watch as old furniture is removed from the main building and tourists view the family's former rooms from behind velvet ropes. Finding themselves unmoored, the family questions the meaning of home and who they are without Dulough. When tragedy strikes, the family is forced to redefine themselves yet again. New fears and old doubts are catalogued as each character delves into the move from the castle to the cottage. Dulough's mysterious history is woven into the narrative, with lush descriptions of its interiors and persona. The characters, unfortunately, only hint at complexity, but perhaps that is the point: the protagonist of this book is Dulough itself, and John and his family are just one generation to pass through. Despite its uneven flow, Lane's story glows with quiet grief. This is a solid debut novel about what happens when a family whose identity is deeply rooted in their home is forced to move. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Lane's elegant first novel, the Campbell family relinquishes Dulough, their family estate, to the Irish government. John; his wife, Marianne; and children Philip and Kate must leave their beloved castle and move into a cottage on the grounds. As the government opens their home to the public for regular tours, the Campbells face a far more excruciating loss. Philip, heading for the island where he's building a secret hut, drowns in the sea. John decides to send Kate away to boarding school, but Marianne swiftly removes her and brings her back to the estate, illegally sequestered in a never-used ballroom on the castle's third floor. Lane's earthy prose is well suited for such an isolated setting, and she beautifully portrays the landscape of Donegal. The characters' only weakness might be their near-flawlessness; the Campbells are kind, loving people, who inhabit their world of privilege without a hint of entitlement.--Thomas-Kennedy, Jackie Copyright 2014 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Financial threats to a family estate in the Irish countryside abruptly leave a man and woman empty nesters without their nest.Pretty much the entire plot of this debut novel reveals itself in the opening chapter. A mother and daughter have locked themselves into an unused ballroom in the family manor after the mother, who "had grown strange," had yanked the daughter out of the boarding school she had just begun attending. The father tries to get them to open the door, but they ignore him. The daughter's younger brother has died. The rest of the novel fills in the detailsnames, motivations, how the past has led to the presentin a manner that plays hopscotch with chronology and point of view. More than half the novel after that scene-setting intro finds chapters alternating between the perspectives (but not the voices) of father John and son Philip as the family prepares to turn its house over to the government as a tourist attraction and move to a small cottage on the grounds. John has apparently been keeping the family's perilous financial condition (as well as a more lucrative option) a secret from his wife. Eight-year-old Philip wonders where he will play, and he hates the thought of other children touring what was his bedroom (where he will no longer be allowed). John's chapters provide some context on the family history and that of the estate, how history seems to both repeat itself and break from the past. Then comes another long section narrated in the first person by mother Marianne, who remembers her courtship with John and her introduction to the countryside. Then a quick concluding chapter returns the novel full circle without really providing resolution. As John muses, "there had to be unsaid things between husbands and wives, and he had learnt that, though these were the things that saved you, they separated you too."Lots of symbolic portentthe past, the sea, the familyand an overcomplicated narrative structure attempt to turn an elemental melodrama into a novel with more literary weight. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.