01 October 2012

What's in a name challenge review: Daughters of the House by Michèle Roberts

This is the sixth and final challenge book, the type of house. The choice was limited - there were very few books in my TBR+1 pile that had any kind of abode in the title, let alone a type of house, so I ended up choosing the common, generic word.

This literary novel, shortlisted for the Booker the year after it was published, is the story of two cousins, one French, the other half-English, half-French, who grow up in a big house in a small village in France in the 1950s. One of them returns to the house after 20 years in a convent and family secrets and lies are uncovered and events in the village explained as the story plunges back into their childhoods.

This is a beautifully written little book, full of descriptions of everyday things loaded with symbolism and metaphor. The story it tells is that of a typical love-hate relationship between two cousins, one who is special and another who longs to be. The narrative is full of twists and hints about dark deeds and while some plot points are predictable, others are surprising. I didn't really like either of the girls, and as my readers will know, I have to like someone in a book to really enjoy it. I found this a big drawback, but enjoyed the book up to a point nonetheless.
3 stars.

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