Sunday, August 31, 2014

"The Hundred-Year House," by Rebecca Makkai

Writers and artists. Academics. Intriguing characters. Complicated relationships. A mystery. What more could this reader want? Rebecca Makkai’s novel, “The Hundred-Year House” (Viking, 2014) provides all of the above and more. The story of the Devohr house and its various inhabitants starts in 1999 and moves backward in time almost a century. As it does so, layers of secrets are gradually revealed. One of the most interesting aspects is that the house was first a family house, then an artists’ colony, and then a family house again; many of the family members were entangled with the residents of the artists’ colony in various ways, either simultaneously, or later as they did research. (As an aside: just the phrase "artists' colony" is enough to make me want to read a book....) Some of the characters are appealing, some not, but almost all are interesting. One reservation I have about the novel is that even at the end, there were a couple of loose ends in the plot that were not tied up (or perhaps were revealed so subtly that I didn’t figure it out?), and that was a bit frustrating.
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