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House of Women

2.79 of 5 stars 2.79  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  26 reviews
"Seventeen-year-old Thea lives a strange and sheltered life with her mother, Nalia, retired opera singer and Holocaust survivor. A virtual prisoner of her mother's obsessive love, Thea escapes with a mysterious and suave friend of her father's and is taken to the remote island on which he lives. "The rule is this," she says. "I am to pretend that my other life does not exi ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 6th 2003 by Little Brown and Company (first published February 12th 2002)
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Lynn Freed is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. While not as luminous as the first of her books that I had read, "The Servant's Quarters", this novella, "House of Women" was still marvelous: atmospheric, chilling, provocative, and utterly MARVELOUS.

This retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades takes place in post-WWII South Africa, with a former opera diva as the over-protective mother Nalia, (Demeter of the myth) and her precariously inquisitive and disastrously naive daughte
April Hochstrasser
This was an engaging book. Even though it was about a fantasized life, (I hope), I had no trouble following the story. It was about a daughter being raised by a madwoman who kept her locked away. Then the daughter was won in a bet by the father's best friend and was taken away and locked away by him. Even though her view of the world was skewed, she did make a life for herself and eventually broke the bonds of her imprisonment.
I started reading this book about a year ago and abandoned at about page 50 because I wasn't quite sure what was going on and wanted to move onto other books. But House of Women haunted me...I kept thinking back to it wondering where it was heading and what would happen. I gave it another try-this time persisted and finished it. Lynn Freed is a beautiful and lyrical writer. Her prose is clean but vauge and she does more implying than anything else. But the story here is about women and their inn ...more
Very confusing story about a daughter and mother in South Africa. Daughter is married off and goes from being imprisoned by her mother to being imprisoned by her husband. Short book.
Self consciously literary and overwritten, I found this tale of a spoiled young girl who runs away with one of her father's friends to be both boring and annoying in style.
What the? I'm struggling to find words....A disturbingly odd tale of a highly dysfunctional family dynamic. I found myself desperately hoping for Thea to overcome the epitome of an over-bearing (and all too often naked...WHY?!) mother, an absent father who raffled her off in a bet, and an adulterous and somewhat incestuous husband. Yet, Thea disappointingly never rises above or finds a way out. She doesn't fight for her children, rage against her husband in any real type of way, and never even c ...more
I get scared when I can read a book that is not brain candy is less than two days, but I tore through House of Women.

I tore through it fast enough that I wished I was reading it for a lecture or a book club, so I could have someone to talk to about it.

Without dialogue (in real life), the book sort of fell flat after I read the last page. There was simply so much happening and so little to sympathise with when it came to the women.

A good book for a lecture... Not so interesting (albeit frighten
Sorry, the very things that made the other reviewers call this book "hypnotic" and "dreamy" just left me in a total fog. Characters without names, unidentified times and places. Instead of making me "peel back layers," it left me saying..."wait, who are we talking about here?" And while aspects of the mother-daughter obsession were compelling, most of it made me want to tell them both to "snap out of it!" Guess you really have to embrace this style of writing to appreciate the book.
Obsessive and smothering mother love combined with an absent father who gives his 17 yr. old daughter to a friend on a bet. Odd premise, and odder characters with lots of money somehow make for a compelling and haunting read. Not Freed's best but an atmospheric tug made this reader want to keep reading to learn what could happen to these characters.
Jul 06, 2008 Kimberly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
Recommended to Kimberly by: Fiction Connection
Shelves: 2008, adult-fiction
I loved the feel of reading this book, and I would have given it four stars if I better understood what was really going on. Freed's writing style is atmospheric, which makes the book a very lovely and haunting read, but I left the story thinking I had not quite gotten it all.
Katharine Holden
The characters spend a lot of time looking angrily out to sea, and the other characters spend a lot of time angrily watching those characters looking angrily out to sea. At least two rape scenes. I can't say how many for sure because I started skimming.
Very odd characters in a very odd story. One of those books where I cannot relate on any level to any of the characters, but I loved the use of language and the writing so much that I kept going when normally I'd throw a book like this aside.

I thought at first that this book was a little bizarre, but after I read it, I grew to really like it, so much that I read it twice. The main character is crazy, but as you read more about her, you figure out why she is the way she is.
Mar 30, 2008 Marguerite rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mothers and daughters
Recommended to Marguerite by: New York Times
A lovely, though sometimes foreign, reflection on mothers and daughters and the way we love and hurt each other. It had a dreamlike quality that reminded me at times of Isabel Allende or Marie Arana's "Cellophane," a book I adored.
This book was dark, depressing, and in some places boring. But for some reason I got sucked into it! I read it from cover to cover in a couple of days. I think it was the rhythm of the writing. It was almost poetic.
The blurb of this book really pulled me in; a young girl, her lust for an older man, her imprisonment in an unhappy marriage. I did enjoy it but it wasn't anything special, I found some of the chapters slow and boring.
Beautifully written account of a twisted mother-daughter relationship, but all the other characters are flat as pancakes. Atmospheric, but not much of a story.
I learned that this was a stupid book. I kept on waiting for it to get interesting and then it had the predictable ending. Total waste of time.
Tracy N.
This book was so strange, I had to finish reading it only because I couldn't figure out the message. Still have no idea what exactly I read :/
Very strange. A good book, but a lot of reading between the lines.
Quite surreal, but intriguing, strange, original storyline.
An odd disjointed and unsatisfying book!
Super boring... but I just have to finish books!
Interesting story and an easy read.
Janice marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2015
milan barjaktarevic
milan barjaktarevic is currently reading it
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Laura Jok
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Lynn Freed is a South African novelist and academic.

She came to the U.S. first as a foreign exchange student, and then went on to receive an M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University. She taught at Bennington College, Saint Mary's College of California, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, the University of Montana, and the University of Texas in Au
More about Lynn Freed...
The Servants' Quarters Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home: Life on the Page The Mirror The Curse of the Appropriate Man Home Ground

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