Saturday, April 6, 2013

The House At the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

The House At the End of Hope Street. Menna Van Praag. Pamela Dorman Books. April 2013. 304 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780670784639.

 Imagine when life seems its bleakest, when one feels all is lost and senses no worthwhile future.  There is a house awaiting such a moment for many women over many years of the last century and this is the story of four women in particular with mention of many others who can communicate the essence of what they found in this house during their brief stay here.  Peggy Abbott is the head of this house, holding a commission she accepted long ago and for which she has sacrificed the love of her life. Now enters Alba Ashley whose career as a history scholar has been demolished through the treachery of another. She is walking with nowhere to go when she is drawn to this mysterious “home” in the truest sense of the word!

So begins the story of Alba’s slow but special journey to healing along with other women, Carmen and Greer.  Carmen holds a secret buried outside the house that is ripping her apart and Greer is devastated from the betrayal of a former fianc√©.  The home where they may only stay for 99 days is magical; it gives each what is needed for the healing process, initially materials things each woman loves and then brief messages and conversations with the ghosts of former residents.  These include Daphne du Maurier, Dorothy Parker, Stella (who is connected with one of the residents in a shocking way) and many more – all speaking from their picture frames throughout every section of wall in the house.  Yes, even the walls, floors, pipes and more speak and move according to the emotions being felt deeply as time passes.  While there is much pain in the healing process, this is a house of hope, of joy and it is delightful to share this progress with all.

Alba will discover the secret about her family and through that connect to her true calling; and in that search she will finally know love.  Carmen and Greer will assist as well as be helped by Alba, and their beautiful gifts will emerge in a wondrous way.  A reunion will occur, a confession will be made, and most precious of all, these women will learn to stop denying their true identity, stop making excuses, stop rejecting the hope that lies so close and takes one momentous leap to access.

Yes, this is a contrived fantasy but a beautiful one that is such a joy to read.  The writing is exquisite, full of sensual detail and gripping changes of plot in just the right places.  The reader is privy to the deepest thoughts of these women which stir the readers’ hearts in personal ways; in a sense this may be the reader’s home as well.
Delightful Ms. Van Praag – exquisite, beautiful, sensitive and thrilling fiction!

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to see that you loved this book! I just recently read and reviewed it, and it has quickly went to the top of my favorites list. New follower :)

    If you get the chance, please stop by my blog and follow as well!

    Chelsey@Charming Chelsey's