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2014 Monthly Book Discussion > August 2014: The Hundred-Year House

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message 1: by Nancy (new)

Nancy (nancy_m) | 9 comments Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time.

Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

message 2: by Nancy (last edited Aug 03, 2014 01:45AM) (new)

Nancy (nancy_m) | 9 comments I found this article about the book on Huffington Post. It has a link to a sample if you haven't decided whether or not you want to read it.

Has anyone else read
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1) by Ransom Riggs

I'm only a few chapters in to Part I but Doug reminds me of the father in that book. He's a deflated wannabe important writer but not completely defeated. His character might change the more I get into the book. Who knows, maybe he's the hero?

Zee - I'm not sure how long I could stay married to her. So far the word I think of when I read a passage about her is petulant.

message 3: by Cara (new)

Cara | 1 comments This isn't a complete thought, just a kind of thought bubble....
I want to say there's something cool and modern and well-rounded about flawed, unlikable female protagonists (like Zee and like Amy Dunne from 'Gone Girl') but at the end of the day (or end of the book, whichever comes first!) I really just don't care about them.
Maybe because they fail the Bechtel test so hard? Maybe I'd like them better if the author didn't measure them by how mean they are to their male partners.
And in both these cases the books' authors are female.

message 4: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 20 comments I have not yet received my reserved copy from the library--long wait list!

message 5: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 20 comments Finally got the book--am enjoying it thoroughly (even though it isn't a 'bean town' book

message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 7 comments Started it and it's a little slow. Will plow through it to see what happens.

message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 20 comments I just finished it today and I don't know what I think. The idea of writing the actions backwards is interesting and does heighten the mystery, but it seems contrived. I also had some trouble following the events and the plot.

message 8: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 7 comments Ok now that I know the writing is backwards I'm not reading the last part. I don't like when books do this and it was a crazy thing anyway so I can't be bothered to read the rest.

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie | 1 comments Still plugging away at this...struggled through the first section and was glad to be done with Zee for a little while (or forever?) The second section writing is a bit more tolerable and I'm curious to know how Rebecca Makkai pulls this all together...

message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy (jaschonh) | 2 comments I finished it yesterday. I thought it was clever with the reverse timeline though it made it difficult for me to follow the characters. Overall I enjoyed it but not so much that I will be recommending it to all my friends. What are the book options for next month?

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