This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that summer’s day in 1959. The whole family on the porch, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before.
From that porch we spool back through the generations, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define the family. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century – four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their home…
Many of our readers really enjoyed this book while some were disappointed by the structure of the story. There was real division within our readers with this structural format.
The story centres around three generations of the Whitshank family and the house in which they live in Baltimore. The Whitshanks are an average family and the house itself is presented as a real character in the book. Each generation’s connection to the house is quite well detailed and each of the key inhabitant’s special feelings toward the house outlined.
Most readers agreed the book is well written. The author’s use of dialogue was excellent and the attention to descriptive character detail all throughout the book was very good. Some readers were transported easily to the time and place in the story while other readers found the abrupt transitions in time confusing and irritating, distracting them from the story line.
Some readers also found the story line laboured on and on at times and was really not taking them to anywhere that they felt was interesting.
There was also a feeling by many that the story had an anticlimactic ending with some readers feeling unfulfilled by the story.
There is definite humour frequently throughout the book and moments that are emotionally very touching. There is also one very big shock incident in the middle of the book that none of us saw coming.
For those readers who had read Anne Tyler before it was a good book but not her best.
Many readers however did enjoy the story, the characters involved and the descriptive skill of the writer.
A recommended read.
Read by MJ Readers