Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Woman in the Lake" by Nicola Cornick, Served with an Avocado Caprese Salad

Happy Thursday and the last day of February. It's hard to believe that tomorrow, March begins. Easing my way into the month, I am happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick. Accompanying today's book review is a tasty Avocado Caprese Salad, inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.
Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…
250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can’t tell what is real and what is imaginary.
As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.

Paperback: 320 Pages
Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (March 1, 2019)

My Review:

This is my first novel from Nicola Cornick and I enjoyed it. I am a fan of dual stories and time periods and the the intriguing story of the malevolent yellow gown, that seems to bring out the worst in people--whether in 1765 or 2015. The Gothic feel and supernatural-horror vibe were a great combination with the historical aspects. I did feel like I wanted a deeper dive into some of the history with the house, the smuggler, the dress, etc. In  having the two eras with three different perspectives--Lady Isabella and her maid Constance in the past, and Fenella in the present, it's hard to get all of the detail in 320 pages. I did like the pacing and the twists and turns the story took. Cornick does a good job of vivid descriptions and setting a creepy tone that made for a few shivers on the windy and rainy evenings we have been having. I like that Lady Isabella was inspired by a real-life Lady Diana Spencer, an artist born in 1734, and that she had me Googling to learn more about her. If you like British history, mystery, supernatural elements and a quick, atmospheric and ultimately satisfying read, give The Woman in the Lake a try.

Author Notes: USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.
Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t writing she enjoys long walks in the countryside, singing in a choir and volunteering as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs. 

You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


 Food Inspiration:

Although not a prominent part of either time period, there was food and drink mentioned throughout the book that included sweet sherry, a spaniel named "Scampi" (made me think of shrimp scampi), canned baked beans, shepherd's pie, tea and toast, champagne, crepes and croissants, bread, cheese, chicken pie, apples and pears, biscuits, coffee (including a flat white), lemonade, BLT and cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches, orange juice, rosé wine, brandy, hot chocolate, apple juice, French onion soup, guacamole, sour cream dip and cucumber sandwiches, and marmalade and a breakfast roll.

I ended up taking my recipe inspiration from a salad Fen made before meeting work friends for drinks, early in the story, before she opens the package from her sister containing the golden gown. I love a good caprese salad of mozzarella, tomato and basil and like to add an avocado sometimes too. It also sounded like a perfect weeknight dinner and luckily good cherry and grape tomatoes and fresh basil are plentiful year-round here, so I didn't have to wait for summer.

"As she tossed some basil, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and avocado into a bowl and sloshed in some olive oil, Fen caught sight of the parcel, still sitting on the table, waiting."

I don't know that you really need a recipe for this salad, but this is what I did. I will say that I am not a big balsamic fan so I tend to use my bottle of champagne vinegar or rice vinegar for salads like this. Use what you prefer, cut things the size you like--you really can't go wrong here.

Avocado Caprese Salad
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 or more as a side)

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
2 medium avocados cut into 3/4 chunks
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp champagne or rice vinegar
sea salt flakes and fresh ground black pepper to taste 

Gently toss tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado, basil, oil, and vinegar together in a bowl, Season to taste with flaked sea salt and black pepper. Divide into serving bowls and serve immediately. 

Notes/Results: Just a few simple ingredients but when they are fresh, you don't need much more. My avocados were a tad over-ripe but I think it works in their favor as they melt a little into the olive oil and vinegar, making a a creamy and delicious dressing.Bread would be excellent with this salad, or like me--you can eat it from the serving bowl, on the couch, and enjoy a bit of #metime with a good book. (Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the cool bookmark in the first picture!) ;-)

Linking this salad up at this week's Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen, where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sandwich creation.

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Woman in the Lake" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


  1. I'm normally not a fan of gothic but this book sounds so good I'd have to give it a try. I am just completely intrigued by the premise. Thanks for being on the tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  2. This book is on my list to read.
    Theresa N
    weceno at yahoo dot com

  3. What a great looking salad - and the book sounds interesting as well!

  4. Adding avocado to caprese salad is an inspiration! Wish I had some fresh local basil now -- but have to wait for the weather to warm up.

    best... mae at

  5. LOVE the cover of the book and will be making that recipe...Yum!

  6. Thanks for lunch! Although I had slightly different ingredients, I started with tomato & avocado & fresh mozzarella just the way you did. Used cilantro as the fresh spice since I could only wish for basil (see my prev. comment).

    best... mae at

  7. What a great sounding salad! So perfect for lunch on the lanai (or deck, if that's all you have )

  8. I find dual time lines quite difficult - the writing has to be just great to make it work. Cheers from Carole's chatter


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