The Shadow Year. Finished 5-25-14, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 416 pages, pub. 2013
On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her? (from Goodreads)
Kat and her friends are graduating from university, but they aren’t quite ready for the real world yet, so they find an abandoned cottage and decide to live off the land (which you might say is more real world than anything else!). Kat is in love with Simon, the obvious but unnamed leader, and Mac is the loner who can share his survival skills, and Ban and Cara are a couple in love. It’s a challenge, but one that is working until Kat’s sister shows up.
Lila and her husband have just suffered a miscarriage and the marriage is in trouble. Her father has recently died and she has mysteriously been left an isolated plot of land with a rundown shack on it. She decides to take the opportunity to get away from her husband Tom and fix up the small house on her own.
It didn’t take me long to start disliking Kat, but the group dynamics were interesting so I liked reading about them. Lila wasn’t always the most sympathetic character either, but I didn’t dislike her, I just didn’t care as much about her story until later. It’s obvious that these two stories were connected somehow, but the alternating storylines were told at just the right pace to keep me riveted. I admit that the connection itself was not that surprising and even the twist at the end was one I sort of saw coming, but it was a fun ride.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one and look forward to reading more from Richell.