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The Hundred-Year House

The Hundred-Year House - Rebecca Makkai 3 1/2

I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program.

The copy I received is a paperback / uncorrected proofs. It starts on page 3 and ends on page 335. The formatting is a bit unusual, with numbered chapters in the first part, followed by no chapter divisions in the second part, and named chapters in the third part. But that might be different in the final edition of the book. It also starts in 1999 and moves backward in time. So the five-page prologue is at the end.

Part I focuses on Zee and her husband, Doug, in 1999. I didn't much care for Zee. I did like Doug, and I liked Miriam, who is also living at Laurelfield at this time. There's a 'dramatic' scene involving Zee which seemed forced to me. Makkai's talented enough to not need such crutches. The ending of this section is a bit corny and convenient, but it's the ending I wanted basically.

Part II focuses on Grace and her husband, George, in 1955. Some questions that were raised in Part I are answered here. I think George could have been written with more finesse. I wasn't really drawn into any of the characters in this section. Of the three full-length sections, this is definitely the weakest.

Part III focuses on a group of artists who were staying at Laurelfield in 1929. We see Laurelfield as an arts colony, not merely as a wealthy family's estate. More questions are answered.

The Prologue is a snippet about Augustus and his wife, Violet, in 1900. We get one more answer to the mysteries of Laurelfield.

Makkai’s a talented writer. She has the necessary tools. The novel moves well and is easy to get through. Unfortunately, after Doug and Miriam, there weren’t characters I felt emotionally invested in. It seems like a suitable novel for a book club, as there are some good triggers for discussion. I just can't mention them here without giving away spoilers.