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The Storm at the Door

3.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  465 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
The past is not past for Katharine Merrill. Even after two decades of volatile marriage, Katharine still believes she can have the life that she felt promised to her by those first exhilarating days with her husband, Frederick. For two months, just before Frederick left to fight in World War II, Katharine received his total attentiveness, his limitless charms, his astonish ...more
ebook, 233 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Random House (first published 2011)
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B the BookAddict
Feb 11, 2016 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you want the very best....
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR

Brilliant, searing, beautiful and absolutely unforgettable.

In this novel, the prose is eloquent, fluid and almost poetic. It is poignant without being sentimental. Katherine, Frederick, Stanley, Lowell, Schulz and poor tragic Marvin will remain in my consciousness for many years to come. My new literary heroes, they have replaced Randall McMurphy and the Chief from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. In my mind's eye I still see Frederick in a business suit, the brilliant Robert Lowell reciting his
May 16, 2011 Ronda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads giveaway! Thanks so much for the book!

I honestly had a really hard time reading this one. I thought that I had a pretty extensive vocabulary but I needed a dictionary handy when reading this story. Block uses a lot of "five dollar words" and his style of writing made the storytelling feel sterile. As much as I wanted to, I never liked or got fully vested in the characters. Instead of the story flowing, I found it was mentally exhausting to read.

Aug 30, 2011 Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Honestly, I had to struggle to get through this one. The author uses rather florid prose and draws out observations on everything. The voice, as he changed perspectives through a variety of characters, didn't change at all. The result was that every character seemed cold, detached from their environment completely, pre-planned in every detail, and haughty. I did not like anyone in this book, nor did I want to.

While I respect what the author was attempting (telling the true story of his grandpar
Tiffany Smith
I am greatly appreciative that I won this book from the Goodreads First Reads giveaways.

"I can't live like this anymore." Katherine's words ring so true. This phrase was a mere reminder of how addiction and mental disorders can deem a family dysfunctional. This is a tragic tale that many will find compelling. The language used by Block is eloquent and florid. For any reader looking for a quick read, this may not be the book for you. To comprehend this intricate novel, you must be able to think c
Apr 23, 2011 Janet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was delighted to receive an ARC from First Reads, and dove right in to "The Storm at the Door." However, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.

Block had a compelling story to tell in his fictionalized account of the lives of his grandparents, their relationship, and the part mental illness, and sketchy treatment for it, had to play. I wanted to become engaged in this story and to embrace the characters, flaws and all, but I just couldn't reach them through all the words.

I'm not a w
I'm a little surprised by the many reviewers who found the writing to be difficult and pretentious. I think the story is a little difficult in that the subject is depressing, and this is not necessarily a "light" read. However, from the first page of this book, I was captured by writing. I loved the phrasing and descriptions. This is one of those writers whose sentences I look at and think, "Wow, what a great sentence."

I understand the subject of this book is loosely based upon the personal fami
Jan 11, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, fiction
Stefan Merrill Block's "The Storm at the Door" is an astonishingly original, quite compelling, fictional exploration of mental illness and its devastating impact on a family; a splendid jewel of fiction that establishes him as one of the greatest writers of his generation. It is a most courageous feat of high literary art, not merely because Block has opted to imagine anew the lives of his maternal grandparents, rendering into fiction what others might regard as mere memoir, as those worth notin ...more
Aug 29, 2011 Judith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was highly acclaimed by PEOPLE magazine, and while you may well scoff at the trustworthiness of anything written in that magazine, I have found it to be a fairly reliable source for book reviews, if you take it with a grain of salt. Unlike, NYT book reviews, PEOPLE has their finger on the pulse of the good old unwashed American public, and therefore can't be beaten when it comes to Pop culture.

However, this book was a bore till about halfway through and then it began to pick up speed
Jun 14, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of words that have been used to describe this unique book based on the lives of the author's grandparents: lucid, heart-wrenching, passionate, fascinating. I would have to agree that all of those words aptly describe this book. It's also been described as a 'beautiful love story', but I have to admit I do not see it as such. Granted, I do not read a lot of books in the romance genre, but this, to me, is not what I consider a love story.

I honestly did not know what to expect befor
May 10, 2011 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway program and was so excited to start reading. I have to say it took me awhile to get used to the author's writing style and thus took me quite awhile to feel connected to the story.

Around page 75 or so I was finally truly interested in the characters and their outcomes. The rest of the way through I was pulled in and kept reading on thinking some big breakthrough or shocking revelation would happen. Unfortunately, I got to the end of the book a
Richard Derus
The Book Report: What happens when a naive young woman meets a tall, dark, and handsome young man on the eve of WWII? He's charming, he's witty, he's intense, and he's going away to war in the Navy. Give up? They get married! When TD&H comes home after only a few months, spends some time in a hospital for the non-physically wounded, and is discharged, the course of the future is set.

The author's maternal grandparents are the protagonists of this novel. He wrote it as a novel, in my opinion,
Eva Leger
Jun 12, 2011 Eva Leger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is so tough for me to review that I really won't be able to do the book justice. I'll start from the beginning.
When I saw this featured on FirstReads I signed up immediately. After going to the books page I took myself out of the giveaway. I thought the book looked like one of those long, drawn out, overly flowery descriptive stories. That is just so not me. My first reading love is non-fiction (this borders on something I'll touch on in a sec) and I like it to be written as such. Life ten
Bonnie Brody
Feb 28, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stefan Merrill Block has written a novel so irrepressibly beautiful and poetic that it left me stunned. The Storm at the Door is based on the life of his grandparents, Frederick and Katharine. Partly imagined and partly based on fact, this is the story of a troubled family dealing with mental illness, secrets, and denial. It is also about the horror and the power of a psychiatric hospital, along with the myriad patients who have enacted their trust in this institution.

Frederick and Katharine met
Jul 17, 2011 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The language in which this book is written makes it sound more important and richer than it is. The sentences are dense and ripe but, in the end, I was left wondering about the whole story. The author's grandfather is crazy and put into a famous mental hospital in Boston where he meets several memorable characters. My impression is that the bum was an incorrectly diagnosed alcoholic who did what alcoholics do and got sent away for it because his wife couldn't resist the decisions made by the men ...more
May 07, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm surprised by the poor reviews this novel has been given by Goodreads readers. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and my review will be simple.

This novel should win a National Book Award. I haven't read anything this good since Nicole Krauss's The History of Love.

Rarely does one encounter a young contemporary American writer who is both a compelling storyteller and an adept user of the English language.

This is about as good as it gets in American writing. So, when it's published in June go
Mar 23, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is extraordinary account of a man's psychiatric illness, and the effect that his incarceration in a mental hospital near Boston, greater and more far-reaching than the man's condition, had on he himself, his wife and his family.

Though fiction, this account is very strongly based on the life of the author's grandfather, via family stories, his own memeories, and the accounts he has been able to find.

There are many characters who, through the author's compassionate depiction of them, we come
May 05, 2011 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was provided to me by goodreads firstreads giveawy program. Stefan Block based this book on his grandparents. It is very graphic especially the mental hospital scenes. There is a former insane asylum in Danvers MA that I am wondering if that was where his grandfather was hospitalized. This book isnt for the faint of heart. I liked it very much and give it 4 stars.
Apr 05, 2014 Darin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again mining his family's history for inspiration, Stefan Merrill Block offers a heartrending study of his grandfather's institutionalization and its impact on his marriage, his children, the staff and other patients at the hospital. Countless comparisons have been made to Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as both novels feature protagonists who don't fit into society as nicely as society would like them to. However, minor transgressions met with draconian responses does not lead to h ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Jennifer marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
won this book as a first-read! Just got it in the mail today and it looks REALLY good! Can't wait to read it!
May 08, 2011 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was happy to win this goodreads "giveaway" book.

Reading this book was a little like taking a psychology class in college--by the time you have finished, you are sure you have most, if not all, the disorders, personalities, disfunctions and distortions. Everyone is crazy; no one is crazy.

Perhaps it was because the author was writing about his family, but descriptions of them and their decisions seemed very detached, it was hard to "get into" this book. I really wanted to like Katherine and/or F
3.5, maybe. Like many of the reviewers on this site, I initially found Block's prose overly florid and heavy -- interested too much in the sound of the words in each sentence and too little in the unique voices of the individual characters. Toward the end of the novel, this apparent flaw became less annoying -- perhaps because it became all the more obvious that this was the narrator's tale and the narrator's interpretation of every character in it. So that, in a sense, all the characters were i ...more
Teri Kelly
Sep 11, 2011 Teri Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Block’s second novel concerns the true story of his grandparent’s Frederick and Katherine. The bright young man with a future (Frederick) returns from war duty with a blank stare and strange behaviour – culminating in him being arrested after flashing oncoming vehicles. To avoid scandal, and Frederick receiving a conviction for gross indecency – Katherine agrees to commit her husband to the Mayflower Home – a haven for the psychotic, criminally insane – poets and even the great John Nash. What f ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Storm at the Door, author Stefan Merrill Block weaves his family history together with a plausible fictional account of his grandfather's 1962 stay in a mental institution. This is a daunting task that he accomplishes with brilliance. The novel is, in a word, stunning. It's not only an intricate, original, and emotional story, but an honest examination of sanity, insanity, and whatever space there is between the two.

It is also one of the most articulate books I've ever read. Block has an
Jun 11, 2012 Paola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
S. Merrill Block é un bel giovanottone, così si evince dalle foto, con un sorriso solare e bei denti bianchi ed ha appena trent’anni, nonostante ciò dispone di grande scrittura, di qualità notevole.
Ha anche una storia famigliare, almeno per quanto ne veniamo a conoscenza e per quanto é dei nonni, abbastanza singolare.
E’ vero che se guardiamo il nostro albero genealogico un picchiatello in famiglia ce lo abbiamo in tanti (per me una zia sorella di mia madre, depressa, morta per un tumore a 60anni
Lolly K Dandeneau
Deeply sad and chaotic. I have read that some feel the novel dragged, and it did sometimes. That aside, I really was able to feel for both Katherine and Frederick. Katharine's life being a painful reminder that sometimes love doesn't always turn out the way it should. Frederick, after having manic episodes, is committed to Mayflower state hospital by his wife Katharine. She is left to raise their daughters alone in a time when there was still a dark stigma to mental illness. Not to say there isn ...more
Zohar -
Jul 06, 2011 Zohar - rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
“The Storm at the Door” by Stefan Merill Block is a fictional book inspired by the author’s grandparents. Mr. Block, while researching his grandparents, imagined a world around them.

When Frederick Merill leaves his wife Katharine and children to fight in World War II everything seems to be fine. however over the years Frederick starts to change, his behavior and moods become dark.

While Frederick struggles with his own inner demons, Katharine struggles to keep up appearances hoping for things to
Jul 27, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Science has only begun to navigate the complexities of the human brain, less still the human mind. But author Stefan Merrill Block has managed to create two novels exploring what happens when things go wrong in the mind, focusing not on the science but on the humanity.
Block’s debut novel, 2008’s beautifully wrought “The Story of Forgetting,” wove several stories around the theme of early-onset Alzheimer’s: not the medical aspects as much as what it means to forget, and to remember, and what such
****I received an ARC through!****

Block is clearly a skilled writer. In fact, it may behoove him to reign in his gift just a little bit. The Storm at The Door tells a fascinating story, but it's bogged down by grandiose prose. Instead of using plot and dialogue to drive the story forward, Block relies on long narratives expounding on the thoughts and actions of the main characters. While his prose is moving - particularly his descriptive analysis of Frederick's fellow patients' mad
Jul 05, 2011 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first fiction book I read based on real incidents was Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. It was a revolutionary genre. Decades later, we are presented with a brilliant chronicle of the author's grandparents as he integrates his research into a lyrical story of mental illness and love.

Frederick Merrill (note the author's middle name) is the husband of Katharine and father of four daughters. He is usually an exhilarating man with a ferocious intelligence and charming wit. Merrill served during Wo
Justin Mitchell
Very torn. I loved the sections that took place in the mental institution. The characters of Frederick, Schultz, Robert Lowell, and Canon feel very vivid and real. Block captures the mind-set of the insane very well, showing you where their thinking and ours part ways with grace and economy. I especially loved the character of Schultz and his search for the "fundamental language"--really great stuff.

It's the beginning and the ending of the novel I had problems with. I found the beginning of the
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Born in 1982, Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting, won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction ...more
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“Frederick knows better than to believe, as his wife sometimes claims to, that all things happen for a reason. Things happen; it is up to us to invent for them a purpose.” 3 likes
“Sometimes, the world suddenly seemed equal to what I required of it. But, otherwise, I was under the world, a cockroach-man scuttling beneath stones in filth, scrambling from the light. Or else I was above the world, as certain and mighty as a fundamental force, as electricity. The sadness of always being at a distance from things, above or else beneath.” 1 likes
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