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The Irresistible Henry House: A Novel | [Lisa Grunwald]

The Irresistible Henry House: A Novel

It is the middle of the 20th century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.
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Audible Editor Reviews

In 1946, Martha Gaines, program director of home economics at Wilton College, receives her twelfth “practice” baby, Henry House — an orphaned child ready to be raised by students in the course as practice for their future as mothers. Martha’s strict and unloving approach to child rearing, based on many of the parenting theories in this pre-Spock era, has no bearing on the fact that she falls deeply in love with little Henry, partly due to her life’s misfortune of losing her own child shortly after it was born. She convinces the dean to let her keep Henry after the two-year time limit and raise him as her own, but Henry quickly proves to be an unemotional little boy, who has trouble returning affections to any one woman. This theme follows him during his life’s journey as he’s shipped off to a school for troubled children, becomes a talented lover of women — and through his character, exemplifies the 60s sexual revolution. As irresistible as he was as a snuggly infant, he proves to be equally so as a young man and adult.

Oliver Wyman’s deep voice lends a documentary-like quality to the novel — appropriate as the story is based on the true use of “practice” babies at colleges in the 40s. Wyman’s slow and methodic story-telling is soothing and his wide range of vocal talents creates believable characters whether he’s imitating a woman’s voice or an infant’s (his baby cries are surprisingly life-like). His approach is warm and enveloping, making even the coldest of characters (like Martha Gaines) have something likeable about them.

This iconic novel is only enhanced by Wyman’s narration and is sure to become a favorite in American literature, among the likes of Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. —Colleen Oakley

Publisher's Summary

It is the middle of the 20th century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.

From his earliest days as a practice baby through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney's Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.

Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-20th century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.

©2010 Lisa Grunwald (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Like T.S. Garp, Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button, Henry House, the hero of Grunwald’s imaginative take on a little known aspect of American academic life, has an unusual upbringing....Grunwald nails the era just as she ingeniously uses Henry and the women in his life to illuminate the heady rush of sexual freedom (and confusion) that signified mid-century life." (Publishers Weekly)

"Irresistible." (Kathleen Daly, Newark Star-Ledger)

"The Irresistible Henry House is a soaring, heartfelt novel that spans three decades and an entire continent. Grunwald, author of several novels including Whatever Makes You Happy, creates a wholly original and all too human character in Henry House. Despite his quirks and shortcomings (or perhaps because of them), Henry is one of the most likeable, relatable characters in recent memory." (Amy Scribner, BookPage)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (361 )
5 star
 (78)
4 star
 (144)
3 star
 (86)
2 star
 (38)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
3.6 (165 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
 (59)
3 star
 (38)
2 star
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1 star
 (11)
Story
4.0 (168 )
5 star
 (59)
4 star
 (62)
3 star
 (34)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (7)
Performance
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  •  
    02-21-11
    02-21-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    4
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    0
    1
    Overall
    "Bad"

    Skip this book. The characters are dull. The plot is rambling and pointless, with idiotic references to "Mary Poppins" and "The Yellow Submarine".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Charlotte, NC, United States 01-04-11
    Karen Charlotte, NC, United States 01-04-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "I would have sworn John Irving wrote this book!"

    I found this to be an "irresistible" read! I am a huge fan of John Irving and found the storyline and Henry so "Garp-ish." I hope the author considers that a compliment! Oliver Wyman did an excellent job with the various voices and accents and will search for other books he might narrate. I never found the story dragging or waning. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Princeton, NJ, United States 12-09-10
    Michele Princeton, NJ, United States 12-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "I wished I read the reviews before purchasing"

    This book was a struggle to listen to...Iike other reviewers, I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. I found the characters, especially Henry, to be rather flat. I was disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley Newburgh, IN, United States 12-01-10
    Shelley Newburgh, IN, United States 12-01-10 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    9
    Overall
    "Gripping from the first line!"

    I totally loved the story! The writing was entertaining tho it stretches a bit in the believability department from time to time. The character is quite likable even when he is behaving badly and he blends well with the other characters in the book. What I really disliked about the story was the ending... there wasn't one! You are listening quite contently when suddenly the story just ends! Very unsatisfactory. The book is well read and the voice is pleasing to the ear.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristin Lang 05-21-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    17
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "fascinating story and a great listen!"

    Oliver Wyman does a great job of bringing this story to life, and what a story! If you are a mom or have one, I can't imagine not finding this tale of what happens when a charming little boy has too many mothers to be positively irresistible, even more so since the premise is based on real-life practices from our not-so-distant past. The writing reminded me of the best of John Irving, a latter day PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. I'm a big fan!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer PERU, IN, United States 07-30-10
    Amazon Customer PERU, IN, United States 07-30-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    119
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Not worth the time"

    I kept waiting for this book to get interesting, and it never did. The characters were mildly interesting at first, but there were too many of them, and the book never really went anywhere. I really didn't like the grown-up Henry, and actually had a hard time listening to the end, which is unusual for me. Not really worth the credits.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lost in space 09-27-12

    Dawn

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    11
    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"

    The story had and interesting start, but went downhill from there. I didn't feel as though I knew the characters. Perhaps the author was trying to make us feel Henry's detachment from other people, but I felt detached from the characters as well. The social changes that occurred through Henry's life were interesting. I had not been aware of "practice babies." I enjoyed the references to changes in expectations of women.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 03-23-12
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 03-23-12 Member Since 2015

    I own a small shop selling custom/costume Jewelry. I love to listen to audio books while I create jewelry. I love all animals and get very upset when they aren't treated well, even in fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
    ratings
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    50
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    5
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good in parts"
    What did you like best about The Irresistible Henry House? What did you like least?

    My favorite parts were the very beginning about the practice house and the parts about Disney,my least favorite parts where all the drug scenes of the 1960s.


    What was most disappointing about Lisa Grunwald’s story?

    It went on way way way too long!


    Have you listened to any of Oliver Wyman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No never heard this narrator before


    Do you think The Irresistible Henry House needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No please no follow-up book this one went on long enough for two books.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jolene 07-09-10
    Jolene 07-09-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    7
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Loved the Narrator"

    I heard about this book on the best seller list, so I was excited to download it. I found it boring, but I thought the narrator was good. Maybe it's just me.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 07-01-10
    Chris 07-01-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    199
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "What a disappointment!"

    I purchased this book after reading the glowing reviews and was thoroughly disappointed. It's a nice enough story, but it wanders all over the place ... just like Henry. A total waste of time!!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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