- Title: The House at the End of Hope Street
- Author: Menna van Praag
- Genre: Women’s Fiction; Magical Realism
- Published: April 2013 – Pamela Dorman Books
- Source: Publisher
Synopsis: Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.
She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life. (publisher)
My take: Feeling devastated and betrayed by recent events in her life Alba is surprised to find herself invited to live in a house where the walls breathe, famous women in photos speak, converse even, and a ghost counsels her from the kitchen sink. Ahh magical realism, how fun you are to read 🙂 Fun and entertaining but revolving around serious issues of Alba and a few of her housemates. One woman is running from a tragic event in her life. Actually, her entire life was tragic. Another woman is almost forty and afraid her chance at finding love and having a child is slipping away. Almost every character in the book is dealing with some emotional issue.
The wise women on the walls (all former residents of the house) give advice or at least their opinions and it’s up to the living residents to either take the advice or not – to live life in the here and now – not the past. They need to figure out what they want to do moving forward and start working toward it.
I enjoyed this quirky, magical tale and recommend it to fans of the genre.