The Hundred-Year House

By Rebecca Makkai
Publisher:Viking Adult, (7/10/2014)

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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The acclaimed author of The Borrower returns with a dazzlingly original, mordantly witty novel about the secrets of an old-money family and their turn-of-the-century estate, Laurelfield.

“Rebecca Makkai is a writer to watch, as sneakily ambitious as she is unpretentious."
–Richard Russo
Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents’ wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there’s Violet Devohr, Zee’s great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

Violet’s portrait was known to terrify the artists who resided at the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it served as the Laurelfield Arts Colony—and this is exactly the period Zee’s husband, Doug, is interested in. An out-of-work academic whose only hope of a future position is securing a book deal, Doug is stalled on his biography of the poet Edwin Parfitt, once in residence at the colony. All he needs to get the book back on track—besides some motivation and self-esteem—is access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades. But when Doug begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, he finds Gracie guards the files with a strange ferocity, raising questions about what she might be hiding. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head—that is, if they were to ever uncover them.

In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

For readers of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle
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Ceci's thoughts on "The Hundred-Year House"
updated on:8/31/2014

Reading this novel is like taking part in an archaeological dig and watching the present-day get progressively further buried under layers of history. The trick, of course, is in how to interpret those layers. The narrative framework creates moments of revelation (mysteries are solved!), flashes of insight into the truths, lies, and myths spawned by each generation of residents, and – as the present gets buried deeper and deeper – a great deal of satisfaction in no longer having to read about the frankly bizarre, mostly baffling, and completely unlikable Zee, the present day representative of the Devohr family, owners of the nominal house. Aside from this complaint with Zee, I have no others. Fun, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, this book will help you make a smooth transition out of your summer vacation and back into the complicated work of life.

Very Unleashable

Book Junky's thoughts on "The Hundred-Year House"
updated on:8/31/2014

This is a book that the minute you get done reading you will want to pick up and read all over again just to see the unfolding in new light. It fills in the pieces as it goes… but they are pieces that you did not even realize were missing until the puzzle comes clear and you then truly see the picture. But now the details that make EVERYTHING make sense is such a beautiful way. Wonderfully written, cleverly presented and just an overall good read. It was so much more than what I was expecting when we picked it, and how often can we say that in an industry that so often allows formulas, predictability and “books that have sold like this” to determine our reading fates. (But it is the books that break the mold, like this, that capture our hearts.) One of my favorite lines of the book came in the acknowledgments. At the very end, Ms. Makkai says, “This book started as a short story about male anorexia. I have no idea what the hell happened.” Ha! Love it! So like the book that captures a place that seems to bring about destinies that only the house already knows, has determined, and facilitates if things are not going according to plan. Very much a book worth reading and allowing yourself to become haunted by! Change your fate by reading the book, or realize it was your fate to read the book all along. Either way, read the book. ;o)


"The Hundred-Year House"
By Rebecca Makkai

Average Rating:
Very Unleashable
4.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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