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1.0 out of 5 starsA tease
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2012
I bought this expecting more.
More detail, more perspective, more insight but all I got were glimpses. Pieces and bits of a bigger picture that could have been more. This is one book I regret buying.
5.0 out of 5 starsA bold and realistic book written for more mature teen readers
Reviewed in the United States on January 3, 2007
Richard's family has been bringing their camper to the Welsh countryside almost every summer that he can remember. There he can meet up with his good friend Dylan, roam the wilderness, and generally run around unsupervised while his father goes fishing and his mother reads mystery novels.
But this summer, the year Richard is 15, is destined to be something entirely different. This year, when Richard goes exploring at the ruined manor house he and Dylan have dubbed "The Wish House," it's no longer abandoned. Instead, the Wish House has been occupied by a most unconventional family, the Daltons. From the start, when Richard encounters Lucia Dalton sunbathing nude in the house's garden, he realizes that this family is entirely unlike his own. Fascinated by Lucia and her brilliant artist husband Jethro, and utterly bewitched by their daughter Clio, Richard begins spending more and more time with this artistic family and their eccentric friends and relations.
The year is 1976, and free love, readily available marijuana and nudity are the norm among the Daltons' circle of friends. Richard, whose conventional family background is utterly unlike the bohemian Daltons, is at times intrigued by this alternative lifestyle and at other times repulsed by it. But thanks to his rapidly developing sexual relationship with Clio, Richard is willing to take the plunge, to accept the Daltons and become part of their world --- at least until he uncovers a secret that threatens to ruin everything.
A realistic novel about a young man's sexual coming of age, filled with betrayals, secrets and lies, might seem quite a departure for Celia Rees, best known for her historical novels PIRATES! and WITCH CHILD. However, Rees's many fans will find parallels in THE WISH HOUSE, with its air of mysticism, powerful symbolic imagery and reliance on the natural world (waves, forests, gardens full of black flowers) for its dense themes.
THE WISH HOUSE is definitely a novel for sophisticated readers; with frank talk about drugs and sexuality, not to mention hints of incest, it is clearly aimed at a mature teen audience. The adult themes of the book, in fact, will probably lead readers to suspect a more insidious secret than the one that actually lurks in the Wish House, resulting in somewhat of a letdown at the novel's end. That being said, though, Rees's bold new book, told in a series of flashbacks, does offer an intriguing glimpse into a particular time in recent history as seen through the eyes of one young man destined to be changed forever by what he sees.
2.0 out of 5 starsoverreaching, boring and anticlimactic
Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2007
By the middle of this book, I found it difficult to continue reading due to how boring it was. The characters seemed fanciful and quite fictitious. There were hints throughout the book of foul play in someone's death and extreme embarrassment for the main character both of which wound up very anticlimactically almost like a ball of yarn unraveling and there was just the end. I also did not find a single sympathetic character. Even the main character seemed far too bland and clueless to elicit any real sympathy. I have read Rees before and really enjoyed her, but as far as this book is concerned, I suggest you not waste your time.
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2006
As a writer, I search endlessly for other authors worthy of stealing my writing time so I can read. Celia Rees has done that, and I'm left without regret! This book is engrossing, artfully structured and realistic in its portrayal of the love movement of the early seventies and a young man's coming of age. I couldn't put it down, and will keep it on my shelf for another read or two, when my search for another book leaves me empty handed.