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The Carriage House

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  395 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
A gorgeous debut novel from an award-winning poet and world champion squash player about an old moneyed family, facing the loss of the youthful talent and storied history that defined them.

After suffering a stroke, patriarch William Adair wakes up in his hospital bed and realizes that his family has changed: they are less extraordinary than he had remembered. For more than
...more
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Scribner (first published March 1st 2013)
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Diane S ☔
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Whenever I write a review I think about the many different opinions people have when reading a book. This is one of those books that will probably not appeal to everyone, but it was one I really liked. It is being compared to Jane Austen's "Persuasion" but I read that book so long ago I don;t remember all that much about it in order to compare the two. William Adair, the father, is the sun that everyone, his three daughters, his wife who is disappearing under the weight of her early onset Alzhei ...more
Amanda Patterson
Aug 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Many aspiring novelists wonder if they should self-publish, and after reading this traditionally published, good-looking book, I say, Definitely! You certainly can’t do any worse than The Carriage House.
William is obsessed with tennis, having been a former tennis champion. He had high hopes that his three daughters, Diana, Elizabeth and Isabelle, would follow in his footsteps. It took the author 30 pages to say this. Anyway, William has a stroke and his wife, Margaux, who left reality behind a
...more
Helen
Probably a 3.5 but decided to round it down.

There are some books that just fail to excite and quite early on you realise you are pretty much indifferent to what happens to any of the characters. This was one of those books - had I lost this book half way through reading it, I wouldn't have wasted much time wondering what had happened to this family and their carriage house. The book also disappointed by only focusing on one family member at the end which left a couple of unfinished story lines.

T
...more
Andy Neilson
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that distracts you from the five that you are currently wading through and thoroughly entertains you to a quick finish. It really does have the feel of a Jane Austen novel and its imagery is so electric that it almost seems like Hall wrote her prose with lightning she took from right out of the sky. And you will come to love the characters as much as she does. We have William Adair, a proud architect with three daughters: Elizabeth, the oldest and an actress/mother in ...more
Andy Miller
Nov 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This novel is set in an upper class Philadelphia suburb seemingly dominated by tennis and social convention and starts with a quote from a Jane Austen novel.So the novel starts with limits. The father is an accomplished architect but lives in a haze of a history of family prominence and memories of family tennis championships; the novel alternates chapters from his view and views from his three daughters, an old flame who has moved back to the suburb from a successful legal career to be closer t ...more
Julia
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book from page 1. I was immediately arrested by Hall's writing, from the poetry of a tennis match to the inner monologues of the novel's various characters. I find it quite an impressive feat that she genuinely captured so many individual characters and their reactions to patriarch William Adair's stroke and its consequences. The beloved carriage house in their backyard, facing demolition due to a zoning error, serves as a foil for the struggles of three Adair daughters, all of them ...more
Zarina
May 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
People once looked up to William Adair and admired his three beautiful, intelligent and talented daughters - Elizabeth, Diane and Isabelle - but a lot has changed since his two eldest daughters left the house.

When William suffers a stroke Elizabeth and Diane return home and for the first time have to deal with their mother's Alzheimer's disease on a day-to-day basis and see the devastating effect it has on their younger sibling, Izzy, and to a lesser extend William. Not only that, but they fina
...more
Kay Bolton
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Family Saga
Shelves: first-reads, 4-star
I was very kindly sent a copy of this book via the First Reads Scheme at Good Reads, and the following is my honest opinion.

In the very first chapter, all I could think was: William, get over yourself for goodness sake. The other characters then went on to make a very poor first impression too.

As I progressed though, my opinions had a bit of a switch around in most cases.

Izzy went from a sulky teenager with real Daddy issues to a lost child that simply needed her Mother to be more present - som
...more
Brigitte
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant plot, beautifully written with echoes to jane Austen's Persuasion. Loved it !
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
Picture this family: a mother (Margaux), with early-onset Alzheimer's, her husband William, an architect and tennis nut whose just had a stroke, and their three daughters who have all by turns been (mostly lovingly) pressured by their father to be tennis stars. Because of their parent's health, all three sisters gather in the family manse in suburban Philadelphia. Isabelle is about to go off to college when the book opens; Diana has just announced she has dropped out of grad school where she was ...more
Lucinda
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stunningly beautiful tale of family expectations, consequential change and relationships

Heartrending and powerfully moving this exquisite, truth-drawing tale captures the essence of family life so acutely. The Carriage House is the centre of William Adair and his two beautiful and talented daughter’s lives, with its historical value and significance casting a shadow over its inhabitants. Elizabeth, Diana and Isabelle struggle to find clear direction as they encounter personal betrayals and fa
...more
Nikki
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review
The Carriage House is a perceptive novel about regret. The characters struggle with what they’ve become, they mourn the loss of the people they used to be close to and they rue the decisions they’ve made.
The story is told from the perspectives of the various members of the Adair household, all of whom have issues: William, the father, suffers a stroke, Margaux, the mother, has Alzheimer’s; Adelia, William’s childhood friend, is still in love with him and three daughters: a failed actress with a
...more
Monica
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
Originally posted on my blog... http://asoutherngirlsbookshelf.blogsp...

When I first read what this story was about I was really tempted to read it. I seemed like a great story of a family brought together after their father’s stroke. Boy was I disappointed. I couldn’t for the life of me get into this story. I tried several times but just couldn’t. I never like to not finish a book so I struggled several times to get to the end.

I wasn’t connecting to the characters. The patriarch William was a
...more
Vanessa Wild
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this gentle and thoughtful slice of life tale inspired by Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'. Set in suburban America, it revolves around The Carriage House' of the title and the Adair family - William, his wife Margaux who suffers from early onset of Alzheimer's disease, and his three daughters, Elizabeth, Diana and Isabelle. The Carriage House was built by William's grandfather but has now fallen into disrepair and is quite dilapidated. It is also the subject of a demolition order and the Ad ...more
Jessica
Dec 04, 2012 marked it as quickly-abandoned
Shelves: fiction
So I was a little hesitant to start this book when I looked at the author bio and discovered that she is from the Main Line Philadelphia suburb that I haaaaated living in when I first moved to Southeastern Pennsylvania. The book is also set in that area and is about a family who is upper crust enough to have a tennis obsession and a carriage house on their property, but I heard good things and was willing to give it a shot.

Then I got to page eleven and I read this lovely little bit, of a Main L
...more
Shu Zhen Cheong-Dinc
The Carriage House is about William Adair’s faith in life and his two indisputable principles - the exceptional good looks and athletic talents of his three daughters and the historical status of his family in their Philadelphia suburb.

Now both the beauty and talents of his daughters and the symbol of their place in the world – the carriage house which was built by his grandfather are beginning to collapse.

Diana, Elizabeth, and Isabelle were all tennis champions in their youth. Having lost their
...more
Lisa
Jun 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hattie Richards
Apr 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Why on earth was the phrase ‘similar to Jane Austen’ splashed prominently across the cover? Honest and united, yet genuinely flawed, families and relationships lie at the heart of Austen novels, and the author’s desperate attempt to adhere to this model felt all too heavy-handed and forced. This dreary, and quite frankly far too unoriginal, theme of illustrious children that fade into the mediocrity of adulthood left me completely unable to empathise, despite the proximity of my age to the Adair ...more
Sylvia
Jul 12, 2013 rated it liked it
I probably never would have read this book - set in suburban Philly, country club and tennis set (not that I have anything at all against either the people or surrounding, but it's rather alien territory for an urban loving Asian-American), except that it's a first time novel written by the daughter of a friend of a friend.

It took a while for me to get into the story of a family - Dad's an architect, Mom has early dementia, and three grown daughters, each confronting separate challenges and try
...more
Darlene Cruz
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riveting, engrossing and fascinating read. This novel I so enjoyed, why you ask? All the drama one novel should have. A father surrounded himself with his girls, as stated in the book, "his girls who had somehow slipped away from him but when he would watch for, everyday, as long as he lived, hoping to glimpse them even briefly as they winged their way past." Geez, how can you beat that? Their mother Margaux early-onset of Alzheimer, how William longed to have just a moment of closeness with her ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book has been compared to a modern-day Jane Austen, and I'm not sure that I would go that far. It is a story about a family that is searching for an identity, comprised of a well-off father, his wife with early onset Alzheimers, and their three lovely daughters, aged 18-30 or so. The father is obsessed with image, and tennis. He wanted all of his girls to pursue competitive tennis, and all three failed him in that regard for different reasons. At first, the book did not involve me that much ...more
Hilary Tesh
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
A creditable attempt to rewrite Jane Austen's Persuasion in a modern setting. If you have read Persuasion, you will recognise the new versions, or sometimes, amalgamations of the characters but the author hasn't allowed herself to be too constrained by the original and so this becomes a study of a contemporary family suffering from a crisis in confidence, which will also appeal to non Austen fans. A clever move to replace the original's deceased mother with Margaux, suffering from Alzheimer's. T ...more
Jeanne
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jane-austen
In this retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, readers meet the Adair family:

• William, the immensely proud patriarch,
• Margaux, the absent mother,
• Elizabeth, the newly divorced eldest daughter,
• Diana, the middle daughter plagued by failure, and
• Isabelle, the youngest and moodiest daughter.

When William suffers a stroke and also faces the destruction of his family’s beloved (and historic) carriage house, the Adair sisters are forced to reconsider the importance of family. Each sister must fac
...more
Jeri
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, f-general
A typical patriarch who believes in the historical status of his family in their Philadelphia suburb and prides himself on the good looks and athletic prowess of his three daughters, all of a sudden finds himself in the hospital having suffered a stroke. His world collapses around him and we find his daughters aren't what he imagined. His wife is slowly losing her memory....what a mess! Then enters a carriage house that has been in the family for generations and is due to be destroyed -- how can ...more
Sue Myers
So disappointed; thought the tennis and architectural themes would be interesting, but could not stand the totally disfunctional family. All of the characters were weird and I could not identify with any of them. I had to skim to the end, because it was so boring. Father's high school girlfriend moved in to help the family was a very strange idea. Mother with Alzheimers, eldest daughter moved home after a divorce, middle daughter did not complete her PhD in architecture and moved home, youngest ...more
Louise Ebenhöh
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book - it was so interesting how the writer wwitches between viewpoints. I love the detail in the descriptions and the slow gradual change in each character. Getting so many characters to move through an arc is fascinating to see. It was totally absorbing and lovely to go back to. I often read during a coffee break or after lunch and it was a nice Feeling that I'd be back with the Adair family to see how their struggle with identity was coming along. It was also interesting to see h ...more
Linnet
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
William's three daughters are home now. One from a failed marriage, another has left school and the 17 year old. He has adored his daughters for their beauty, intelligence and most especially for their skill at tennis. Everything changes after his stroke. He begins to see their flaws and their weaknesses and face his own role in the failures in their lives. His wife who suffers from Alzheimer's becomes important to him again as he faces the changes in his life and the lives of those in his famil ...more
Amy Warrick
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it

I found this very similar to 'The World Without You'; a dysfunctional family of three sisters & parents cope with change and how the dreams of their youth are not matched by the reality of their adulthood. Ms Hall has not been able to make her characters as likable, or as forgivable, but it's not a bad book. Family drama, spoken and unspoken, and you want to take them by the shoulders and shake them sometimes to wake them up.

I think Ms. Hall has better books inside her. Hope she finds a w
...more
Charity
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Carriage House is a beautifully written tale of a family that has fallen from its former grace not in an instant but in a slow, barely perceptible descent. Louisa Hall uses the power of emotion and understatement to present her readers with well-formed, identifiable characters that are somehow lovable not in spite of their failures but because of them.

The story line is simple and not much happens in the way of action, but the characters' actions, emotions, and thoughts make are what really d
...more
Nancy
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
It’s hard to care about this family who are so rooted in pleasing their father who seems to care only about himself. He is totally unlikeable—even allowing his pushy mistress to live with them while his wife fades slowly into dementia. One of the more interesting parts of the book is when the youngest daughter Isabelle accuses her mother of not being ill but pretending. Not a bad idea if you’re living with a narcissistic, pretentious bore, to escape to the refuge of a garden. We’ll never know.
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