Thursday, September 14, 2017

The House of the Soul by Annie Dawson

4.5 Star

Homemaker Ella Casey is circling the middle-age drain. Her once adventurous life is now measured in loads of laundry, her grand dreams of changing the world diluted with each rinse cycle. When she flies to the enchanting California estate of her best friend Teri for a Peace Corps reunion, the accomplishments of her peers threaten to soak up the last drops of Ella’s floundering self-esteem. 

Teri Flores is everything Ella is not: glamorous, wealthy, and fearless. Her sprawling mansion, La Casa Del Alma, serves as both artists’ retreat and modern day salon to Teri’s eclectic entourage. Teri entertains her guests with lavish meals, outrageous activities, and impassioned debates, but the weekend sours when old grievances mix with new ambitions. 

As past and present collide, Ella struggles to redefine herself, but will her growing need to validate her life end up destroying it? 

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Kathryn - 4.5 Star

My apologies to Annie Dawson as I sat on this novel for some time before reading it for no good reason other than I wasn’t sure I was in the right frame of mind to read it.  I suspected that it was going to tug at my heart (which I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for) but I actually found that I was more mentally involved than emotionally.  Sometimes you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

It reminded me of the movie Stealing Beauty from the 90’s with Liv Tyler - the music in that movie evokes a slightly hazy reality and for the second part of The House of the Soul I had the same impression of Teri’s home. A haven for artists and new artistic thinking there was something definitely on the outside of reality about La Casa del Alma.

By contrast the earlier part of the story when Ella and Teri meet in the Peace Corps seemed much more stamped in realism.  They were exploring their own notions of self and parted under distressing circumstances, a real coming of age for them both and a bond that united them as “sisters”.  Once they physically are parted they seem to have little communication and Ella becomes stuck in a bit of a rut.  The reunion of their group of Peace Corps volunteers brings in a host of interesting characters that inter-mingle, collide and give focus to Ella’s desire to do more with her life. 

I found the references to Captain Nemo a touch frustrating.  There wasn’t anything clearly wrong with her relationship with David, more a dissatisfaction with herself, so I found the implication that another man was on her mind a bit insulting.  However that does clear itself up and I am perhaps the only one to have found it distracting!

I encourage people to read this book because it’s insightful, different and covers a number of topics that I found fascinating.

Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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