Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The House At The End of Hope Street

The House at the End of Hope StreetAuthor: Menna Van Praag
Publication Date: April 4, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.

“If you stay I can promise you this,” Peggy says. “This house many not give you what you want, but it will give you what you need. And the event that brought you here, the thing that you think is the worst thing that’s ever happened? When you leave, you’ll realize it was the very best thing of all.”

When Alba wakes all she can see are books. Thousands line every inch of every wall and the ceiling, some drift through the air like birds, lifting off from one shelf and settling on another; precarious stacks are spread across the floor like skyscrapers. For a moment, Alba thinks she’s dreaming.

“True love will rip your heart right open and knock you for six.” Stella smiles. “But you’ll also feel safer than you’ve ever felt in your life.”

The young woman waves again, and it’s only then that Alba realizes she is the only one who can see her.

The house has stood at the end of Hope Street for nearly two hundred years. It’s larger than all the others, with turrets and chimneys rising into the sky. The front garden grows wild, the long grasses scattered with cowslips, reaching toward the low-hanging leaves of the willow trees. At night the house looks like a Victorian orphanage housing a hundred despairing souls, but when the clouds part and it is lit by moonlight, the house appears to be enchanted. As if Rapunzel lives in the tower and a hundred Sleeping Beauties lie in the beds.

I am not going to be able to praise this book enough! I am enraptured by its perfectly woven tale and the intricate characters and the magical house that lies inside its pages. I am completely in love with this magical house, and the idea of it appearing to women who have lost their hope, hence the name “Hope Street.” I was already sold on this idea, and then Menna has to go and add talking pictures and charming ghosts to the mix as well. This story follows Alba Ashby, who is a rather odd character with a keen sixth sense; she can see sound and smell. They appear as colors to her. She can also talk with ghosts and sense things that others may not be able to. She is extremely intelligent, and when we meet her in the opening pages of this book we find that she has given up hope.

I cannot tell you all how much I love this book. If you are reading this, you need to get up and go purchase a copy of it right now. I will cherish this book forever! You know I loved the book if I am already raving about it and I am only on the second paragraph of my review. I honestly tried to draw out my time with this book. I reread pages, just to make it take longer. I hated to part with it once I was finished, but the characters and the entire concept behind this book will stick with me forever.

My favorite part of this book was the cozy feel behind the magical house and all that came with it. There are pictures on the wall of inspirational women throughout history who have stayed at the house for a short period of time. Some of these inspiring women are Sylvia Plath, Florence Nightingale, Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, and many more. Did I mention that they come alive? Yes, they talk! They give life advice and writing advice and whatever else the guests of the house may need. Who comes up with this? Menna van Praag, that’s who! She is brilliant and I have just found my new favorite book of 2013! Please start working on your next book, Menna!

***An ENOURMOUS thank you to the publishers at Pamela Dorman Books for providing me with a copy of this charming book in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. I have now added this book to my TBR pile... when someone praises a book as much as you have done I have to check it out for myself!