Kirsty Wark has woven a brilliant tapestry, pulling together the threads of three generations and setting their lives against the background of one of the most beautiful and atmospheric places in Britain. Many good novelists write well about the inner lives of their characters and some can make the landscape come alive, but very few can do both as well as Kirsty. I loved The House by the Loch and couldn't wait to turn each page.
I've been enthralled by the wonderful and atmospheric world Kirsty Wark has created - really powerful and compelling.
Wark's second novel brings to life Galloway - one of the most beautiful and least well-known parts of Scotland, even to many Scots. This sparsely populated but spare and beautiful landscape anchors three generations of one family struggling to come to terms with a dark secret. As with her debut, The House by the Loch draws on real historical incident and some of her own personal history while also being a deeply satisfying work of pure imagination, however real Jean and Walter and their families feel. A multi-generational story that is at once sweeping and intimate.
It took me back to the books I adored when I was young - the sheer pleasure of immersing yourself in a single family, past and present, their lives in thrall to the sweep and power of the landscape. You need curiosity and generosity to write like this and Wark has so much of both. Her understanding of family - its mysteries, losses and secrets, and especially the fraught tenderness between mothers and daughters - is masterful.
It is a very good story. It holds you. You are eager to know how it will unfold . . . There is much to delight. There is warmth and understanding. It's a very Scottish novel, not only in its setting but in its suggestion of the duality of human nature . . . One test of a novel is whether you almost immediately want to read it again. A second is whether you find still more in it at this second reading. I would guess that for many The House by the Loch will pass both tests, colours flying.
Beautifully written . . . A haunting tale which combines Rebecca and Room At The Top with Fame. Not something you can say about many books.
How can a book be sad and yet so hopeful and uplifting? Kirsty Wark has written an epic masterpiece (great sense of place and architecture too)
Like Wark's bestselling 2014 debut, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, this novel's heart lies in the evocatively drawn landscape of southwest Scotland . . . strong on place, dialogue and believable characters
In an atmospheric and moving tale, journalist Kirsty Wark nails the complexities of rural family life, as well as the stark Scottish landscape
Slow burning and richly descriptive, this is one to savour
Her love for her homeland shines through every page . . . A warm-hearted novel with vivid depictions of both the landscape and the family inhabiting it
With a fine sense of place, the Galloway setting is atmospheric and the characters recognisably real, creating an altogether satisfying read
Rich, layered and totally compelling . . . Wark's debut, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, was impressive; with this novel she has really hit her stride
An assured family saga from a talented writer