Saturday, June 19, 2010

Show Me 5 Saturday: Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts

A fun way to add variety to review formats this meme was created by Alipet at That's A Novel Idea.

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here has added a Mr Linky again this week so we can link up our posts .

1 Book I read: Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts

2 Words that describe the book: Fantastic reading ( can't find two words to adequately describe, sorry)

3 Settings where it took place and/or characters I met:
  1. The setting is a small rural village in Normandy, France in the years soon after the end of WWII .The time period moves forward 20 years briefly at the beginning and end of the book.
  2. Therese - the story begins with her return to the house in France after 20 years absence. Raised in England every year she spent her summer holidays here with her relatives.
  3. Leonie - Therese's cousin and the same age. She has lived in the house for all her life.
4 Things I liked/disliked about the book:
  1. What I liked most was the writing. The blurb on the back " richly sensuous word-spinner'  describes it perfectly.
  2. I liked that this beautiful prose was about the most ordinary everyday things. Each of the chapters has a title like - The Dustpan and The Ironing Board - and the sights, sounds and smells of domesticity are evoked in minute detail.  Take lino for instance - " In the corners of the kitchen, where it fitted badly, it could be prised up, peeled backwards, waggled to and fro until a  piece cracked, broke off. Chewed, it eased aching gums: a dirty comforter ; flexible chocolate. Then in the cracks between the lino strips lurked crumbs, hairs embedded in solid grease. All to be prodded, tested, gouged out.
  3. I liked the plot - most of the story is about the summer when the cousins were thirteen: young girls growing and beginning to question they are intrigued by their parents' and servants' guilty silences and begin to weave fantasies that will eventually reveal a village secret and leave them with a deep shame that will continue to haunt their adult years.
  4. If I have a dislike it's only that it all ended too soon. The book is only 172 pages long!
5 Stars or less for my rating:

4.5 Stars for this little gem. I discovered it on the library shelf looking a little tattered and taped up and couldn't resist bringing it home. Is there anything better than having no expectations and discovering you're holding a treasure. Not a new book by any means as it was shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize but I'd never heard of it before - I'll be looking for more by Michele Roberts.


  1. What a nice surprise! I was thinking, though, if the cover was tattered and taped up - it was well-read. That's a good sign.

  2. Holy Moly, does this sound good. You have tantalized me into putting it on the list!!! Great review and a wonderful library find.

  3. Sounds like you found a real gem! How wonderful that your "kindness" to a tattered and taped up book worked out so well for you!