Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents' wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there's Violet Devohr, Zee's great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.
Violet's portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony - and this is exactly the period Zee's husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track - besides some motivation and self-esteem - is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn't, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head - that is, if they were to ever uncover them.
In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the listener back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate, and the incredible surprises life can offer.
©2014 Rebecca Makkai (P)2014 Penguin Audio
i like to read. i like to listen.
i love how this novel jumped back in time to four generations of inhabitants of the hundred-year house. starting in the "now" and going back with so many secrets intertwining all three generations. every section answers questions, gives you more questions, and wraps you up in the secrets and lies and intensity of the house.
i loved the character development, even in the shortest sections -- i loved the interactions between the artists, the owners, the caretakers and the house itself. the house was the main character (obviously) and held all the secrets in its walls and under it's soil and in every part of it.
would read again.
I absolutely would. Knowing the full story, I'd like to revisit the parts I thought were about one thing, but were really about something else. It's a rich story with characters you come to love, flaws and all. There is a sweetness and a satisfaction to the wrap up.
I enjoyed the "mystery" of the house and wondering exactly "who" the characters were.
If the story had stuck with just the 2 most recent generations I think I would have enjoyed it more. When it went back to the earliest years of the house I honestly lost interest and even got a little confused.
I laughed out loud frequently over some of the comments made by some of the characters!
I really wanted to like this book, but i really couldnt get into it.
I may come back to it at a later date and relisten, but for now I cant recommend it.
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