Thursday, April 11, 2013

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Ah, another novel chock full of magical realism.  I love these books!  The House at the End of Hope Street is a sweet novel perfect for a weekend read, or a good reason to go to bed early during the week.  It's the kind of novel that requires a bit of hot tea, a sweet treat, and coziness.  

The House is a magic place, where women find themselves staying when they have reached a point in their lives that requires making a decision.  Each woman can stay for only 99 days.  In that time, the house itself works to help nudge them into finding their true passion, healing broken hearts, and finding direction.  Peggy's family has owned this house for a few centuries, and it has been passed down through her female side--one woman stays and takes care of the women who come in and out of the house.  And there are some interesting women--Dorothy Parker, Liz Taylor, Sylvia Plath, and so many other great women who worked hard over the past few centuries for women's rights: to education, to vote, and to live their best lives.  Even Virginia Woolf hangs around the house.  The walls are lined with photos of all the women who have stayed in the home, and there are a lot.  And they talk to those who stay at the house, giggle, and offer advice.  The house itself is pure magic:  notes float down from the ceiling, books fill rooms overnight, and there's a magic garden out back that only Peggy can see.  The house is a major character, and a charming one at that.  

Alba, Greer, and Carmen all find themselves staying at the house:  Alba has fled her promising university track; Greer is a down and out actress who found her fiancee in bed with a younger woman; Carmen finds herself in England after fleeing her home under mysterious circumstances.  Alba is the main character; she is an incredibly brilliant young woman who finds herself pursuing a PhD at Cambridge. She can also see colors when people talk, see and talk to ghosts, and experiences the world in a way that no one else does.  But this has also confined her and limited her life.  What secrets does she hold?  Where does she come from?  Can Greer get her life together and find some peace?  And Carmine.  Lush, lovely, earthy Carmen.  She loves music, but it's connected in a bad way to her lover--and that story unfolds into the darkest part of the novel.  But even the darkest parts spark with magic.

Fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen will certainly enjoy this novel.  I myself found a craving for chocolate cake--Peggy likes to eat birthday cake most every day for breakfast.  Her story is another part of this novel that reminds us  it is never too late to love, change your life, and grow.  

Rating:  7/10.  Clever storyline; Alba is a character that shows great promise and growth, and the house itself is a wonderful part of this novel.  Magical.


  1. I just finished reading this book last week and I absolutely loved it! Thank you for a great review! I love your blog - newest follower :)

    If you get a chance stop by my blog and say hello.

    Chelsey@Charming Chelsey's

    1. Thanks Chelsey! Always great to meet another book lover--and book blogger. Looks like we enjoy a lot of the same titles--great minds think alike!

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