Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Other People's Houses

By Jami Deise

It’s generally not a good sign when a book starts with a detailed list of characters and a map. It signals a cast so lengthy that readers are going to have trouble following who’s who, and who is related to whom. Indeed, when I first opened Abbi Waxman’s latest novel, Other People’s Houses, and saw a long list of people and the aforementioned map, I shuddered. I have enough trouble keeping track of real people, much less fictional ones. And it did take me awhile to remember who was who. Not only was the cast lengthy, but Waxman chose to write the novel in omniscient point-of-view, which has fallen out of favor. (It’s hard to distinguish from “head-hopping.”) Still, I read on, and several chapters in, I was hooked.

Even with its multiple viewpoints, Other People’s Houses is mostly Frances’s story. She’s married to Michael; they have three children but no sex, and she is mom to the entire street. The story kicks off when she walks in on Anne having sex with a man who isn’t Anne’s husband, Charlie. Now Frances is stuck with a burdensome secret, and Anne knows she has to break off the affair before it blows up in her face. Also living on the street are Bill and his son Lucas (his wife Julie is on a mysterious work trip), and Iris and Sara and their son Wyatt.

Anne’s affair is the spine of the story, but everyone has something going on. Even the elementary-school aged children get scenes of their own. At first, I found this annoying, but then it became necessary for the story. Anne’s affair affects everyone, even other people’s children. Still, even in Anne’s point of view, Waxman never gets to the heart of why she cheated. Frances is the heart of the story, and the character most easy to identify with. She’s given up her career to take care of her husband, children, and house, and gained thirty pounds in the process. She’s lost her identity, sexuality, and sense of self in service to others and the image of ideal motherhood. Anne and Iris, who each have multiple chapters in their points-of-view, remain at an emotional arm’s length.

At times, the novel is funnier than the storylines, and several scenes and lines had me laughing out loud. Other times, I teared up at the characters’ pain, especially the children’s. Waxman and her characters make several cutting observations that had me highlighting my Kindle.

Other People’s Houses will remind readers of Liane Moriarty’s work, albeit without murders, and Moriarty’s fans will enjoy the book. Set in an upscale suburb of Los Angeles, Frances and her neighbors have first-world problems, but so do Moriarty’s. Waxman might not be lucky enough to have HBO commission a series starring Reese Witherspoon, but if she is, I would certainly be watching.

If nothing else, the book is an important reminder to never cheat with someone who doesn’t have as much to lose. And to make sure your phone isn’t hooked to any other devices before texting secrets.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy to give away!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends April 8th at midnight EST.

24 comments:

Janine said...

What I like best about my house is the fact that it's paid for and we don't have to worry about paying a mortgage.

Carla S. said...

I love that my house is historic (c. 1928) and that it is walking distance from lots shops and restaurants.

Melissa said...

The kitchen is my favorite part of my house because it is filled with my favorite appliances, foods and beverages!

Linda May said...

I loved having my house in Indiana, but after losing my Husband to Kidney Cancer 17 months ago it was getting. too hard for me to take care of by myself so I sold it & moved back to Chicago my hometown & I'm now living in an apartment & I love it.

Kelley B said...

I love my house because it is paid for. We are now able to do some home improvements! Thanks.

traveler said...

My house is close to many amenities but also in a quiet and scenic location.

Dianne Casey said...

What I love about my house is the location. I have really great neighbors and everyone watches out for each other.

Margie Shaw said...

I like that I saved and paid cash for my house so that I didn’t have a mortgage to worry about and that it just felt like home when I first walked in with the real estate lady.

Melanie Backus said...

In my house, I like my dining room. That long table is where we all gather for a meal together.

Mary C said...

I like the location.

susieqlaw said...

I love the location.

holdenj said...

I like our original fire place--creamy yellowish mid century stone!

KATE ROCK said...

I love my tiny home. A converted school bus or "skoolie"

Arletta Boulton said...

Besides the cliche answer of my family is the best part of my house, I really do love my kitchen. We renovated our entire house in 2009 and my kitchen is really my dream. I love the island, I love all my cupboards, I love my pantry, I love the windows that let in so much light. When I think of moving to a different house eventually, it'll be my kitchen that I will miss the most.

Linda Kish said...

I like the open floor plan. I don't like closed up places. They feel smaller.

Mary Preston said...

My house feels safe and comfortable.

Lesley McIntosh said...

I love my house as it gets all day sun in the kitchen/living areas and is compact.

KVocke said...

I love my house because it's where my doggie lives :)

Tatum Rangel said...

I like that I get a good view of the buildings in Downtown L.A., from my home.

Bonnie K. said...

I will have to talk about two houses. We're moving into our new old home this Friday, and then we'll put our current home on the market. I love all of the bookcases my husband built for me here. I am really going to miss them. All of the books are in boxes. My new home is a 1935 house, English-style cottage with a beautiful garden. I hope I don't ruin it! I will need to read up on care of the trees and flowers. Anxiety-filled weeks. Obviously, I'm on break now. LOL

bn100 said...

style

John Smith said...

"What do you like best about your house?" Having a roof over my head!

Natasha S. said...

I like that I have a place to live. I'm so blessed and I love the location. I'm close to work.

Charlene Argaez said...

What I most like about our current house is the spaciousness and closets. There’s a lot of places for storage. We’re moving soon so we will have a new house to love and grow memories in!