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Daughters of the House

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  302 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Intrigued by parents' and servants' guilty silences and the broken shrine they find in the woods, two cousins--one French, the other English, growing up togeher in post-WWII Normandy--weave elaborate fantasies, unwittingly revealing the village secret and a deep shame that will haunt them, even into adulthood.
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by William Morrow & Company (first published 1992)
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Anglo-French writer Michèle Roberts writes the story of cousins, one English, one French. Every short chapter is triggered by some household object in the house where Thérèse and Léonie both live in their teenage years. The book paints a vivid picture of French country-house life in the post-war years, and was a device I enjoyed, just as I enjoyed observing the girls' somewhat love-hate relationship develop, despite their closeness. But I was uninvolved in the plot itself, which I found rather s ...more
Dec 10, 2011 Ricky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is wrong with having a plot? Why are there endless books where nothing happens?
Sep 12, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: lit
2.5 stars. I expected that I would love this book; it has so many of my favorite plot elements. Ancestral family home? Check. Long buried family secrets? Check. A slightly unreliable narrator? Check. And yet, put all together, all these checks ended up adding up to a mediocre read, at best, for me.

A large part of my problem was the writing style. The chapters, each centered around an object in the Martin family home, were so short (typically just a few pages long) that I never really got into t
Jun 27, 2009 Asma rated it it was amazing
The English writer Michèle Roberts wrote Daughters of the House. The novel is a narrative about provincial French Catholics in post-WWII Normandy and thirty years later. Cousins Thérèse and Léonie are the protagonists within the familial and village setting. The reader enters the intimacy of the girls' lives. We poach mackerel in the kitchen, experience sexual awakening, and celebrate the Virgin Mother in a nocturnal forest. Suspense is carried by random bits concerning a tragedy in the village' ...more
Uma Blacher
It could have been an interesting read given the setting but there just was no story. Plenty of bits of 'not so important' information thrown in, chapters starting with no beginning with the so called secret turning out to but a non secret in my opinion. Disappointed.
Jul 27, 2011 Lindsay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I found this book to be very much a case of style over substance. There are some wonderful descriptions of the French village setting and cuisine, but that isn't enough to hold the uncoherent plot together.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rae Stoltenkamp
I found the beginning of this book exceedingly confusing as I kept getting the central characters muddled up. This is because it switches from past to present from chapter to chapter but there’s nothing to use as a frame of reference except the content of the chapter to let the reader know this. Result – one very lost reader.

The further into the book I got the less confused it became. But nothing about the story made me want to shout about it. I found myself not caring terribly much about the ch
Jan 19, 2011 Jade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did enjoy this book, it was quite unusual but in a good way. I liked reading about a story set in France and really enjoyed the way everything was described, it gave me a good impression of what it was really like to be there. The book wasn’t one of those can’t put down books for me, it wasn’t very fast paced, but I did want to find out what happened and work out what was going on, so I did read it fairly quickly (although I was on a plane whilst reading it). I quite liked the short chapters, ...more
May 02, 2008 Ysabel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy reading about female friendships
I picked this book because I've always liked stories about intense female friendship - probably because my own friendships have always been intense. It wasn't what I was expecting at all - for a start the main characters in the book were younger than I'd thought. I thought it was a really good, honest story with probably very true reactions. There was a fantasy element to it that didn't go at all in the way I thought it would, and was never really resolved.

It was a good, sweet book about friend
Jan 07, 2014 Suz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book! This is a book about two girl cousins who grew up together in Normandy France, went separate ways and then reunite after 20 years. The chapters are each about an object in their childhood house and usually very short. This style of writing made it very quick to read but made the narrative a little jumpy for me. I liked the detailed descriptions, getting a glimpse of country life in France after World War II, and how we really get to know the relationship between the cousins. I thought ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Yolanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A sinopse atraiu-me: uma família com um segredo, uma casa e um santuário envoltos em mistério e a promessa de uma revelação arrasadora..... Não foi isso que senti ao acabar este livro. Não correspondeu de todo às minhas expectativas. Desagradou-me também a forma da escrita e da divisão dos capítulos. Não senti entusiasmo no passar dos acontecimentos. Por outras palavras, achei a maior parte da história "insonsa", com um ou outro apontamento mais relevante.
1.5 stars. I live in France and this novel sounded promising in its premise but I found the writing unnecessarily and almost pretentiously vague. The 'secret' was an anticlimax but perhaps I lost the point amongst the haze the writing drew me into. Unfortunately, this offering from Michèle Roberts finds itself at the bottom of my ratings for 2015.
Jessica Meikle
Jun 09, 2012 Jessica Meikle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The unfolding relationship between Thérèse and Leonie kept me hooked to this novel. I loved the way that the history of their families became entwined in present day as the girls grew older and learned more. A fantastic read - highly recommended.
May 01, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books is so full of luscious detail that it is a privilege to read. This book should have won the Booker Prize in 1992 rather than only being a finalist. This is the best writing I have ever seen. Michele Roberts now is my favourite author.
Jul 24, 2013 Cerys rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-bk-grp, 2003
I received this as part of a postal book group

I thought I would enjoy this book more than I did. The writing style annoyed me and the inference that the writer knew more about what was going on than the reader. I still didn't really know what had happened or who had done what at the end.
Sonia Gomes
Jan 12, 2010 Sonia Gomes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beautiful book
My introduction to Michele Roberts!
It is a wonderful book and I do think it is a sort of autobiography, for Michele is part English and part French.
Two cousins meet a share golden moments in a beautiful country house, and stumble upon a terrible secret which everyone has been hiding.
This is the story of two girls and the uncanny family home they grow up in, a Normandy house with an unsettling history. This is the kind of novel you get lost in: every detail of the house is filled in, every meal and shift of light, every emotion the protagonists experience. I loved this book.
Sep 06, 2007 Momot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: udahbaca
Ini buku yang bikin gw pengen belajar bahasa Prancis dulu.
Gw suka banget background French Countryside yang jadi setting ceritanya.
Terus ada sedikit glimpses tentang skandal masa PD 2 di Prancis.
Gw dulu baca buku ini berkali-kali.
Sep 29, 2016 Kirsty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a good book. Beguiling and intriguing, with a good dollop of foreboding thrown in for good measure.
Clara Challoner
Mar 20, 2014 Clara Challoner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story set in France with interesting spiritual dimension and rich, absorbing language throughout.
Suzanne Jackson
Jan 28, 2014 Suzanne Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, beautifully descriptive, strange and compelling. An unusual read for me. I would recommend it!
Penny Mccreight
Penny Mccreight rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2012
Pratibha Castle
Pratibha Castle rated it it was amazing
Nov 05, 2012
Merry rated it liked it
Oct 28, 2009
Celeste rated it it was ok
Jul 12, 2009
This book was so tantalizing. I just like to read it again and again.
Melanie Andrews
Melanie Andrews rated it really liked it
Apr 01, 2013
Keris rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2014
Andrew Doolin
Andrew Doolin rated it liked it
Mar 18, 2013
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Michèle Brigitte Roberts is the author of fifteen novels, including Ignorance which was nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction and Daughters of the House which won the W.H. Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in June 2007. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud: Stori ...more
More about Michèle Roberts...

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