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Staff Pick: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Cover of The Hundred Year HouseNancy of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Laurelfield, a grand old estate north of Chicago, is the centerpiece of Rebecca Makkai’s clever novel. The book begins in 1999 with descendants of the well-heeled Devohr family. Zee Devohr and her husband Doug, both academics, are living temporarily in the coach house. Doug hopes to do research on an obscure poet who lived at Laurelfield when it was an artists’ colony in the 1920s, but Zee’s mother is surprisingly protective of whatever files and artifacts might be in the attic. The narrative travels backward in time, leaping to 1955, 1929, and 1900, revealing Laurelfield’s complicated past and its eccentric occupants. In this reverse chronological order, echoes from the past – and future – are well crafted, and the engaged reader will be rewarded. With its rich detail, fine prose, and dark humor, The Hundred Year House is a unique and satisfying read.

 

For more eccentric characters in grand settings, try…

Cover of The Last Summer of the Camperdowns
The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly is the rollicking novel about a 12-year-old girl’s eventful summer of 1972 on her dysfunctional family’s Cape Cod compound.

Cover of Rooms
In Lauren Oliver’s suspenseful novel Rooms, a troubled family arrives at the mansion of their estranged, recently deceased patriarch, but find there are ghosts too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of Bellweather Rhapsody
In the witty Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, talented high school musicians and their chaperones descend upon a huge, once-grand hotel in the Catskills for a music festival on the anniversary of a shocking crime.

Cover of A Sudden Light
Set in a haunted mansion in the Pacific Northwest, A Sudden Light by Garth Stein is an atmospheric novel narrated by a 14-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to learn more about the house and his family’s secrets.

Cover of An Evening of Long Goodbyes
An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray features colorful characters at a crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, where the cozy existence of 24-year-old Charles is about to be given a serious shake-up.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 26, 2015 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: In the Land of Dreamy Dreams by Ellen Gilchrist

Picture of NancyEscape the winter chill and transport yourself to the South with a collection of short stories by Ellen Gilchrist. The critically acclaimed In the Land of Dreamy Dreams showcases her frank yet warm and lively writing style. Her daring, spirited female protagonists are sometimes flawed but always entertaining.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 10, 2015 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter

Photo of NancyIn Ernessa T. Carter’s spirited 32 Candles, Davidia Jones endures a tough childhood and then reinvents herself as a singer in Los Angeles.  When she runs into her high school crush, her attraction is back in an instant, but so is her memory of a hurtful prank.  When he pursues a romance, sparks fly.  Will she get the “happy Molly Ringwald ending” she’s always wanted?

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on November 11, 2014 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Nancy staff picks photoIn Kate Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody, high school musicians and their chaperones gather for a music festival at a huge old hotel. It’s the 15-year anniversary of a shocking crime in Room 712, a blizzard is approaching, and one of the students disappears. This unique premise drew me in, but the sharp writing and eccentric characters kept me hooked.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on August 12, 2014 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

Nancy staff picks photoWhy is the respected headmaster of a boarding school wandering naked in Central Park?  More questions — and some surprises — are in store in The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.  This stunning novel is an enigmatic tale of love, loss, and regret that will keep you guessing until the very end.

By MPPL on May 20, 2014 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks