The Woman in the Lake

aka - The Woman in the Golden Dress

“The Moonrakers are ready, ready to fish for their fortunes again, ready for time to repeat itself, ready for the secrets to be told.”

Synopsis of The Woman in the Lake

Beware the power of possession…

London 1765

Isabella, Lady Gerard, orders her maid Constance to destroy a beautiful golden gown that was a gift from her husband. Its shimmering elegance has been tainted by his vile actions the night before. Yet the gown exerts a curious hold over Constance and as it starts to obsess and possess her, she begins to see it as a way out of the life of spying and drudgery in which she is trapped.

250 Years Later

When a gown she stole as a child from a historic home is returned to Fenella Brightwell, it starts to possess her in exactly the same way that it did when she was a girl. 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 cannot tell what is real and what is imaginary. As Fen starts to discover more about the gown and Isabella and Constance’s story, so she begins to see the parallels with her own life, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity and her life itself.

Read an extract from The Woman in th Lake

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"A fascinating tale with intriguing twists."

Barbara Erskine

"I was hooked from the first pages."

Gill Paul

"You just can’t put it down. Brilliant!"

Katie Fforde

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Reviews of The Woman in the Lake

“A complex story that’s gratifying to unravel. Nicola Cornick works her mystery writer’s magic, the parallels and interconnectedness of the two separate eras and characters, each on their own trajectory. Well-crafted in its intricacy; at the end it fits together like the pieces of a puzzle.”

New York Journal of Books


“The writing is strong and the twists and surprises enjoyable; the rising danger keeps the pages turning... Nicola Cornick does a skilful job of weaving teh worlds together and and making the history of Old Swindon come alive in the present.”

Historical Novel Society


A Sumptuous, spell-binding story

”Full of mystery, secrets, heartbreak and magic that will keep you guessing."

Sarra Manning, Red Magazine


Lyrical, ethereal and mysterious.

“Her style is unlike anything I have read and is completely mesmerising.

Travelling Book Nerds


"Lush historical drama with mystery and magical realism."

Girls in Books


“'The Woman in the Lake weaves through time and space... Unputdownable."

Janet Webb, Criminal Element


"An Assured Storytelling Style."

New York Review of Books


"A Fascinatingly Intricate Storyline... Highly Entertaining."

Liz Robinson, Lovesreading


Extract from The Woman in the Lake


Extract from Chapter 6

The lid of the box lifted away to reveal layers of tissue paper with a neat cut sliced through them. On top was a piece of thick, cream-colour writing paper, folded in half, covered with Sarah’s imperious handwriting. It felt very odd to see it now, her grandmother speaking to her from beyond the grave when she had barely spoken to her at all in the last twelve years of her life.


“This is yours. Do with it what you think best but be aware of the danger.”

The note was unsigned.

Fen’s heart started to race. She knew at once what “this” was.

Carefully and with hands that shook, she unfolded the rustling layers of tissue paper. A faint smell came from the box – lavender, conjuring up the memory of her grandmother’s garden in the summer and the sun on hot stone, and mothballs, a pungent smell she had always hated. Her fingers brushed something soft and smooth, silk, aged and pale yet still retaining the shimmer of gold.

A sensation shot through her, recognition and dread and a strange sort of excitement.

The golden gown came free of its wrappings with a whisper of sound that was like the past stirring. It felt as though it sighed, shivering in Fen’s hands. Unconsciously, she held it close to her heart in exactly the same way she had done in her bedroom fourteen years before.

She had had no idea that her grandmother had known about the golden gown. When she had left Swindon she had abandoned it in the bottom of her wardrobe underneath her sports kit and her hockey stick. It felt like something she had outgrown along with her childhood. She needed to leave it behind and move on.

She wondered if Sarah had found the gown when she had packed up to move back to her native Norfolk. It was odd that she had said nothing at the time, but then they had not really been on speaking terms.

Fen picked up her grandmother’s note again, frowning a little.

“This is yours. Do with it what you think best but be aware of the danger.”

What on earth had Sarah meant by that?


Fen knew all about danger. She had an intimate, atavistic relationship with it that raised the hairs on the back of her neck. The memory of terror stalked her. She only needed to close her eyes to see each episode unfurl like a film reel. She would be running, tripping in her haste to escape, her heart pounding. Then Jake would catch her.  She could feel his grip on her arm, the wrench of her bones as he hauled her back against him and held her close.

“I love you,” he had kept repeating, as though that were a charm that warded off all evil. “I love you so much. I will always love you.”

She never wanted to hear those words again.

She gave a violent shudder and came back to the room and the bright sunshine and the golden gown. How could it be dangerous? It was just a piece of old silk and lace.