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House Arrest Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Red Hen Press; 1st Edition edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597094994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597094993
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,739,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

From Publishers Weekly

In this strong first novel, an unusual relationship develops between a home-care nurse and the pregnant cult member under house arrest to whom she is assigned prenatal visits. Emily Klein suspects that this new assignment has been dumped on her because her boss is trying to get rid of her, but she quickly warms to her new charge, Pippa Glenning, court-ordered to wear an ankle monitor after the deaths by exposure of her 14-month-old daughter and another child in the communal Family of Isis home she lives in--considered a cult by the disapproving community; the two children froze to death during a night of ritualistic celebrations. Emily's ability to empathize with Pippa stems from her own family problems: her father was imprisoned for setting fire to a draft board office during the Vietnam War and Emily provides daily care for her cousin's daughter, born with spina bifida. Throughout, Emily is vexed by the question: is something wrong just because the consequences are awful? Meeropol's work is thoughtful and tightly composed, unflinching in taking on challenging subjects and deliberating uneasy ethical conundrums.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 


House Arrest
probes with insight and sympathy two harrowing questions that will always be with us:  How do we forgive others and how do we forgive ourselves? Whether the pain Ellen Meeropol’s characters confront arises from ill-considered political action or more intimate irresponsibility, she knows that guilt and retribution cause searing wounds, but she has built a fascinating story about the unquenchable promise of healing.
—Rosellen Brown, Before and After

 

Ellen Meeropol's courageous debut novel explores what it means to live by the principle of compassion, even in defiance of the rules and the rule-makers. It is about the power of ceremony, the hard road to healing, survival and transcendence in the face of unbearable loss. Meeropol, herself a longtime nurse and activist, brings an authentic voice to this moving tale of the ethical and political choices faced by health care practitioners, and by all of us.
—Martín Espada, The Republic of Poetry

 

The characters in House Arrest lead rich, complicated lives. Ellen Meeropol has written an intelligent, heartfelt, challenging novel that offers no easy answers and stays with the reader long after the final page has been turned.
—Lesléa Newman

 

In her debut novel, Ellen Meeropol tells an unforgettable story about loyalties and the ties that bind us--and break us. Read it.
—Ann Hood

 

 



"What drives Ellen Meeropol's compelling debut is an essential moral question about what a family sacrifices when a parent lives according to higher political ideals. What keeps you reading are Meeropol's astutely observed diverse cast of characters who draw you into their dilemmas, their world, and most importantly their heartaches."
—Heidi W. Durrow, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
 
 

 



"In this suspenseful, richly plotted novel, Ellen Meeropol explores the moral complexities of politics and medicine as they intersect with the private sphere of family. She is acutely sensitive to the nuances of long-suppressed sorrow and regret; with equal insight, she successfully immerses the reader in a wide range of characters. House Arrest is smart, provocative, and moving."
—Julia Glass, Three Junes and The Widower's Tale
 

About the Author

A literary late bloomer, Ellen Meeropol began writing fiction in her fifties when she was working as a nurse practitioner in a pediatric hospital. Since leaving her nursing practice in 2005, Ellen has worked as the publicist and book group coordinator for an independent bookstore and taught fiction workshops. She is a founding member of the Rosenberg Fund for Children and author of the script for their dramatic program “Celebrate,” which has been produced in four cities, most recently in 2007 starring Eve Ensler, David Strathairn and Angela Davis. Drawing material from her twin passions of medical ethics and political activism, her fiction explores characters at the intersection of political turmoil and family life.

Ellen holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. Her stories have appeared in Bridges, Portland Magazine, Pedestal, Patchwork Journal, and The Women’s Times. House Arrest is her first novel. She lives in Western Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

I look forward to what this author does next!
ann barden
It is the story of loneliness and need, of abandonment and finding family and self.
midwest reader
The characters are beautifully three-dimensional.
Michael Z. Castleman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reading a debut book is sort of like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you will get. The good news is, with House Arrest, you get something that's very savory indeed.

Ellen Meeropol is a self-described "literary late bloomer" - even more enticing. House Arrest focuses on home-care nurse Emily Klein an her charge, Pippa Glenning - the young cult member under house arrest for the freezing death of her young daughter during a winter solstice ceremony. As the pregnant woman in her self-described family, it is Pippa's responsibility to dance in the upcoming solstice...a near impossibility since she is confined by a ankle monitoring device. Soliciting Emily's help is her only chance.

The author - a long-time nurse and a social justice activist - does not take the easy way out by turning this into a crowd-pleasing adventure saga. Rather, she explores the ethical dilemmas that confront each of us every way we turn. These two women come from markedly different backgrounds, yet both are dealing with family incidents from the past...and the present. And both are navigating the limitations of freedom.

Families, Elli Meeropol suggests, is a fluid definition. We get flashbacks to birth families, the cult family, families composed of cousins and exes living together. And ethics can be similarly fluid. At the beginning, Emily muses, "I didn't know Pippa well, but I already suspected she wasn't much on toeing the line either. Me? I follow the rules." Or does she? Aren't there times when rules are meant to be broken? And when?

When Elli turns her laser beam on the world of home health, she writes with a special authority.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kay on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
The intense, complex characters in House Arrest come alive, especially Emily, a visiting nurse, who has loving relationships with her diverse patients and with her cousin's child, Zoe, an elementary school girl suffering from Spina Bifida. The story focuses on moral quandaries of young adults who have suffered from the political actions (left and right) of their parents. These young women attempt to find alternative family relationships when those of their origins have failed them.

Especially effective are the alternating voices with which Meeropol frames the story, and the suspense created by the evolving bond between Emily and Pippa, a pregnant member of a religious cult who is under house arrest charged with the death of her daughter during a winter solstice ceremony. Despite their very different political backgrounds, we come to understand Emily's motivation in deciding to help Pippa with an illegal act.

I appreciate Meeropol's nonjudgmental stance toward a cult, but I had a hard time emphasizing with Pippa and I couldn't understand why Emily and her friends found her so appealing. Still, this didn't stop me from getting caught up in the book, which I couldn't put down.

Meeropol (married to the same man since her college days) describes a number of strong single women creating interdependent lives with friends and extended family rather than with a partner and nuclear family. No one couples in this novel of fulfilling alternative lives. Read House Arrest for pleasure and for its personal politics.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ElCerritoReader on February 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This truly original and compelling novel is full of courage and complexity. First-time author Ellen Meeropol gives us a diverse cast of sensitive characters with rich, storied lives that are unfurled slowly, almost delicately, as the novel progresses.

Emily Klein, an agency nurse in Springfield, Massachusetts, provides care to home-bound patients, who help fill the painful void left by Emily's parents. When the novel opens, Emily has been assigned a new patient, Pippa Glenning, a young runaway from the South in her second pregnancy who is under house arrest, awaiting trial for the tragic and mysterious death of her first baby. Pippa is the youngest member of the House of Isis, a spiritual family group that worships the goddess Isis.

Pippa and Emily reluctantly become friends, and Pippa dares to ask Emily for help. Because she is pregnant, it is Pippa's responsibility to dance in an upcoming ritual - the same ritual during which, one year earlier, Pippa's first child accidentally died. But the house arrest monitor makes Pippa's participation in this midnight ritual impossible. While Pippa is beginning to question the ties of the House of Isis family group, which is breaking down under the strain of the recent tragedy, she is nonetheless dedicated to her goddess, Isis, and determined to dance. Will Emily help Pippa, risking her own job in the process?

Meeropol is a skilled, subtle writer. Each of her characters, even minor ones like Gina, Emily's friend and co-worker, and Sam, the ex-husband of Emily's cousin and roommate, is so well-drawn, so human, they come to life vividly on the page. The home-care visits and Emily's interactions with her patients sing with authenticity.

Meeropol describes the various settings of the story in a masterful way.
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More About the Author

Ellen Meeropol is the author of two novels, On Hurricane Island and House Arrest. She began writing fiction in her fifties while working as a nurse practitioner in a pediatric hospital. Since leaving her nursing practice, Ellen has worked in an independent bookstore and taught fiction workshops. Drawing material from her twin passions of medical ethics and political activism, her fiction explores characters at the intersection of political turmoil and family life. Ellen holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine.

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