*This is a review of an advance reading copy.*
Earlier this year, I discovered Rebecca Makkai through her debut novel, The Borrower. That book became a favorite of mine for many reasons. With The Hundred-Year House, I knew I was in for another great reading experience, though I wasn’t ready to encounter such a change from Makkai’s first book. On top of that, this book is split up into a few sections. Each section has it’s own style, characters, and time period to convey to the reader. This all, for me, shows how diverse a writer Makkai is and it’s refreshing when many writers find one style and they stick to it (which isn’t a bad thing, but changing it up is always welcomed when it can be accomplished so well.)
As I mentioned, this book is set up in a few “parts” (three parts and a short prologue). This isn’t uncommon, though, the story takes place over 100 years and each new section brings the story back in time. The fact that this story is told by going back in time was interesting to me and I wasn’t sure how it’d work for me. It took a bit for me to see what the author was doing with that format, and it was definitely the right choice. It was a unique way to reveal the big picture and the missing pieces in the puzzle.
There’s a lot going on in the book that it’d be hard to pick it all apart here, and I’d rather leave it for the readers to discover on their own anyway. This book is filled with intriguing characters, many intersecting lives across generations, and some mystery that’s only revealed through this journey back in time. And the characters aren’t just the humans. The house, and the Laurelfield estate, itself has as much a role as a character as it does as a place for this story to take place. The bleeding together of Doug and Zee’s struggles, into Grace’s marriage issues, then the telling of a period when Laurelfield was an artist’s colony before all of that, makes this story stand out to me as a complex but rewarding read that’ll be one of few for me to go back and reread. With the knowledge I have after finishing, I’m eager to see what I pick up on from what came before it.
Makkai’s books will be on the top of my reading list from now on. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
You can grab a copy of this book (pre-order at the time of posting) from:
RELEASES JULY 10, 2014
About the Author:
Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based writer whose second novel,The Hundred-Year House, will be available from Viking/Penguin in summer, 2014. Her first novel, The Borrower, is a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection, and one of Chicago Magazine‘s choices for best fiction of 2011. Her short fiction has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), and appears regularly in journals like Harper’s, Tin House, Ploughshares, andNew England Review.
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