Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai Review

Title: The Hundred-Year House
Author: Rebecca Makkai
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The bottom line: A very strange, odd little book about a hundred-year old house, I liked the idea of this novel, but the execution threw me off a little bit.

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Here's the thing: I gobble up contemporary novels with as much joy as high fantasy ones. Contemporary novels, to me, are essentially windows into the human soul in the way other genres aren't: They show us that even people without imaginary superpowers have problems. To me, the magic of this genre isn't just that a narrative can be created; it is that they show us that everything, even little things, can be special.

The narrative of The Hundred-Year House moves backward, offering us a glimpse of three generations of an old family. First, there is Zee, and Doug, a married couple trying to get back on their feet; then there is the tale of Zee's parents, Grace and George, and finally, the house is populated by a group of eccentric artists. Taking the reader back in time, we are shown what exactly happened to the family all the way back to 1900.

What I enjoyed:
-The premise of this novel was intriguing, because even though there were many characters showcased, the house itself was the darling of the story
-The gorgeous prose
-I liked the pacing of this novel--once I picked it up, I couldn't think of putting it down
-Zee, the hilarious young woman trying to make her own identity known to others--sometimes in a very brash manner
-Shy Doug, who at times seemed more than a little bit ill-suited for Zee
-Grace, possibly one of the best characters in the whole story, in that she had a lot of depth
-Chase and Miriam
-My favorite part was the chunk of the book taking place in the 20s
-Zilla, Eddie, Josephine, Fannie, Marceline, Armand--there wasn't a character introduced in that part of the story that I didn't genuinely enjoy
-The ending--it was satisfying, especially for a book about a family saga

What could've been better:
-I didn't like George in the slightest
-The format of the novel took a little getting used to
-At times the pacing stuttered a little
-At times the novel was told in different tenses, which made it hard for me to follow

Overall, The Hundred-Year House was an enjoyable read. Next on deck: Winterspell by Claire Legrand!

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