Being a devout library user, rarely do I ever buy a book. This time I made an exception because it was by a favourite author and I was charmed by both the title and the lovely cover. But if I wouldn’t have bought it, I don’t think I would have finished it. As with Commonwealth (which I also oddly bought on a whim and was disappointed in), I am realising that I liked Patchett’s earlier works like Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage much better. I must be an outlier in this, since reviews for both of Patchett’s recent novels have been glowing. Incidentally, in case you plan to read it by listening to the audio, it is narrated by Tom Hanks.
This book is a classic example of an inanimate object taking its place as a character in the novel. I connected fully with the house and feel I could recognise it if I saw it, but sadly connected less fully with any of the people or the story line. Not much happens in this novel and I found it rather boring, to be honest, despite the flyleaf promises of suspense and a ‘tour de force.’
Danny and Maeve are exiled by their stepmother but for years and years to come they continue to park outside of the house just to stare and remember and reflect. They go on with their lives, but the obsessive stalking clearly weighs them down. The story explores relationships tainted by loss, longing, and a sense of displacement. In the end there is a bit of redemption, but for me it was too little too late.