Published by Arrow on 3 July 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Thrillers, Suspense, Women, Family Life, General
Source: Purchased Book
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“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” (Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author ofMe Before You).
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.
Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters,The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
The House We Grew Up In. A perfect starting bullet for discussion. Do you remember yours? Was it a happy home, full of laughter and fond memories? Lisa Jewell introduces us to the concept that looks can be deceiving. Everything can appear to be magnificent and charming on the outside but behind closed doors secrets can harbour and fester. Even our memories can appear hazy, are they to be trusted? An atmosphere seeped in darkness, tragedy that alters the course for everyone and a compulsion that could kill. Jewell makes us understand frustrations, how hoarding is as much an addiction as alcoholism and just how it spirals out of control.
The story is one of forgiveness and healing. The depressing tale is told in multiple different point of views, the mother, Lorelei, and her three children. We are immediately given a window into the mother’s state of mind, her actions, and behaviours over the course of her marriage and the rearing of her children. This is given in a course of emails sent to an online lover, Jim. She appears endearing but vain to her own wiles but can be hugely critical of her own Children especially her eldest, Megan.
The House We grew Up In is a place that was the catalyst for trauma and hurt. It wasn’t a pleasant place to grow up in. The children were constantly walking on eggshells around their mother. The behaviours she displayed for sure hampered their development and the acclimatising to life outside the family home. The story was shocking and heart-breaking and the coldness dripping off the mother was a hard pill to swallow. She believed that she loved them with everything she had but truthfully it was the control she ached to hold within her hand. It wasn’t love; it was abuse.
The prose almost had me for a second. I was taken in by the sugar sweetness, the way she wanted to mother them, how she wanted to protect them from the big bad world. The reader is meant to feel her pain and sympathise with her – after all how can love for your children be wrong? How utterly naïve.
I got through reading The House We Grew Up In, I can’t say that I enjoyed it because I didn’t really. It was ok. I spent longer than was acceptable reading inane chapters of dialogue that took the reader nowhere…no new information and no direction. I felt seriously annoyed that the reader was expected to feel sorry for a hoarding mother that destroyed everything she touched. Her excuses for her behaviour were the flimsiest reasons and didn’t even try to repair bridges with her long-suffering children. Their thoughts and feelings were never taken into consideration, only Lorrie mattered…only Lorrie had the final say. The result was a tale told of how she cut them down and pinned their wings. Their collective experiences of a toxic upbringing mirrored in their adult life, meanwhile, Lorrie had no recourse.
I wonder if the mental issues were used more for shock value but reading this wasn’t pleasant – too many lives destroyed…too much black.
ABOUT LISA JEWELL
Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.
She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.
She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.
She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.
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