Friday, July 04, 2014

2014 book 155

Rebecca Makkai's The Hundred-Year House
Makkai's second novel has strong writing and a decent concept, but the execution is a little uneven. It centers on a historic house, once the home of an artists' colony. In the present time, a college professor and her husband--she's the heir to the estate--come to live in the coach house, where he hopes to secretly find archives about a poet he studies, and instead uncovers a bunch of family secrets. That was all well and good (the family secrets are fascinating), except that it's one of those plots that involves a complete lack of communication between spouses. If they ever had one actual conversation, there'd be no story--which annoys the heck out of me. Like, ANNOYS. I really didn't like the way this section wrapped up, either. But then we flash back to the 1950s, and a woman in an abusive marriage--and we get to see some of those secrets play out in the novel's strongest section by far. The last two sections show the colony at its height--and confirm some more secrets--and then show the building of the house. It's really readable and I think book clubs might enjoy dissecting it, it just didn't quite work for me. B.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in July.

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