“I was the model of efficiency…by taking advantage of the greatest invention since bacon…audiobooks.”
First off, this quote was my favorite part of the whole book. How spot on is that statement?!
(Photo Credit: Google Images)
Anyways, lets jump right in.
Ivy Baygreen is a recently widowed woman with two teens and a century old house. Prior to his sudden death, her late husband Adam had made plans to renovate and refurbish the old home to bring back it’s old charm and character. Now surrounded by the half-finished projects and memories of Adam, Ivy knows she needs something to pull her out of her grief. Her brother, Stephen, suggests making a list and sticking to it, so Ivy creates six steps, including finishing the house projects Adam started. As Ivy starts tackling these projects, she ends up finding “easter eggs” from the house’s past owners. Curious to learn about her beloved home’s past, Ivy finds that her heart wasn’t the first broken in the home.
Going back through the years, the reader is introduced to the home’s first owners, the Lansings. Sisters Emmeline and Cora are new to the Sugar House, UT area. Bringing along few possessions, including a rose bush, the sisters learn to love their new home and a few local young men. From there, we meet Bitsy, Cora’s daughter, who watches her father stuggle to keep the house as the Great Depression hits. After some time, Eris Gianopolous and her Greek family come to owning the home. We watch Eris and her husband update the home as well, Eris’s own form of therapy while she awaits her son’s return from Japan during World War II. Then during the 1960’s, we meet Lainey Harper, the most recent occupant of the Downington Avenue home. Struggling manic-depressive disorder, Lainey is desperate to be a good mother to her daughter Sylvie.
As all the ghost’s of the house come to surface, Ivy learns that “there is a little sad in every story”.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)
Personally, I liked the idea of this book more that the book itself. I liked the concept of the common plot line where the main character discovers something historical in the attic and connects it with the present, so the reader gets a historical flashback. However, while reading, the entries from the past are rather scattered, in my opinion. I think that would’ve made the climaxes to each storyline have a stronger impact if they had been in a more consistent order. Also, the same goes for the “chapters” being separated by character- I like that style, but there wasn’t a real order to the characters as their stories intertwined. Overall though, once you have all the storylines figured out at the end of the book, the parallels of love and strife come together nicely between all the characters.
All in all, it’s not a ‘keeper’ for the bookshelves, but it wasn’t a bad read. As someone who has recently bought a house, I can definitely relate to the ‘home renovation as therapy’ theme, and the interest of it’s past residents.
(Photo Credit: The Salt Lake Tribune)
*6/21/2018* While looking to update this post with photos, I found an article about the book release, which I found interesting. Olsen was inspired by her own 100 year old home and the odd findings found while renovating it. She had created stories about the old residents in her mind, which lead to the novel. Here is a link to the article.