I don’t know about you all out there but I am aware that I put a certain pressure on specific authors and sometimes publishers to deliver a selection of books any of which I can pick up know I am in safe hands and am bound to enjoy. Only what happens when you don’t really enjoy one of the books. Disappointment is the answer to be honest only the fault really is more with me than the book isn’t it? After all I have put it on a pedestal before I have even turned a page and I do wonder if that’s why you are about to get the thoughts that you are on ‘The New House’ by Lettice Cooper.
I will start of by saying that I had instantly loved the premise of ‘The New House’ hence why I picked it up. A single, and really rather stressful, day in the life of a family moving house in the years between wars, the reader popping into all of their minds as the day goes on. It doesn’t sound complex and that’s because it isn’t some books are all about the subtlety and I thought this would be one such book, in many ways it is. We meet each of the Powell’s either residing in Stone Hall or those who have come by for the day to provide help and support painting the full family picture both as it stands currently and giving insight into the past.
Natalie Powell the mother and matriarch of the family is finding the move and widowhood trying ( a description of her waking up and the realization her husband is gone is written beautifully) and downsizing more so especially as the land is being built over, though you wonder if they could really afford to stay there anyway. Rhoda is the long striving daughter who has refused marriage in order to stay with her mother and is becoming increasingly bothered by the situation (which is fair her mother is a nightmare) and concerned she may turn into her Aunt Ellen, a spinster who gave her life to her relatives rather than herself. Delia is the engaged sister who got away and Maurice the brother who married the rather cold Evelyn (I laughed at Maurice’s thoughts on Evelyn’s attitudes to sex). All the little intricacies of the family are brought to the fore as is their lifestyle and the ‘day to day-ness’ of everything.
This should have been just my cup of tea and a delight to read and yet sadly it didn’t really capture me. Don’t get me wrong I read it from cover to cover otherwise I wouldn’t think it fair of me to ‘review’ it but on occasion it felt like an effort, I felt with every chapter that I had read this all before in the last one and intricate became repetitive for me and I started to get a little frustrated with the situation and the characters. Why did I keep on reading? Well, it’s a Persephone and until now not a single one has failed me and because now and again there were moments of delight and some of brilliant humour they just, for me personally, came too few and far between which was a shame and then as a whole it fell a little flat and left me a little cold when I wanted to be charmed. 6/10
Funny in a week I have mentioned two books that left me ambivalent, a feeling that doesn’t sit well with me. I will however, and you might think this is very odd, be recommending this to a few people as I think they would totally be charmed by it and think it a marvellous book. I am wondering if it was a timing thing and in getting very excited (naturally) about Persephone Reading Week (I would possibly have given up on the book had it not been for Claire and Verity’s delightful venture) I picked it up when I wasn’t in the right mood and therefore did it a slight disservice. Maybe I will get it out the library in a year or so and give it another whirl?