Sunday, March 23, 2014

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag Book Review

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag is a charming and intimate book.

At the heart of the story is the house in question.  Magical, literally, it's been a refuge for women needing to find themselves and rebuild their faith in what they can accomplish.  And it's been standing for about 100 years.  Referenced during the book are many famous women who've lived in the house and who stare down from photos.  I'm getting a little tired of books that incorporate famous people from the past…but the device actually works in this book in that we sometimes all need a role model to encourage us to reach higher.

We switch between the perspectives of four women.  Alba, brilliant, has failed at the Ph.D program at Cambridge under mysterious circumstances.  Peggy, who runs the house, is getting older and needs to find her replacement.  Carmen is a glamourous but mysterious older women.  Greer is an out of work and aging actress.

What I loved about the book is how these women do find a new and better path for themselves and become comfortable with who they are as people.  Life can beat you down; they rise.  The story is completely mystical and thus a little unrealistic, with ghosts and a living house.  But the point of the story is spiritual and so the author's device works it's own magic.  Perfect.

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