Customer Review

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another House with History and Secrets, April 19, 2007
This review is from: HONEYSUCKLE HILL (Hardcover)
Marion Marchetto continues her successful technique of telling stories through the personality of houses (201 ATWATER was her first) and while this new novel HONEYSUCKLE HILL is another rather short novel (270 pages) full of fascinating glimpses into history and characters, Marchetto has now decided to add a subtitle to this second work - `A Merline Madagascar Historical Renovation' - that indicates a slight shift in focus that may require re-thinking.

HONEYSUCKLE HILL is set in Shelton, Connecticut and is the name of an old ramshackle home purchased by Merline and Daniel Rivers, a couple still recovering from the loss of their first pregnancy. Somehow the old house speaks to Merline and she and her husband decide to buy it, restore it, share it with Daniel's mother, and eventually turn it into a state of the art Bed and Breakfast Inn. In the process of restoration Merline encounters the spirit of an Algonquin (Pootatuck) Indian girl named Lillianoah who through a `dreamcatcher' device, and because of Merline's openness to converse with spirits, and the two become friends and share personal and historical secrets. Lillianoah dates back to when the first white settlers moved to the area and indeed she fell in love with a white man named Noah, conceived his child, then waited for his return to America form saying goodbye to his English family. There is a misconception about Lillianoah's final days and it is for this reason that the spirit remains to share her true story so that she can be released from the cycle of spirit life in which she lives. As the restoration of the house is realized, many other stories about the house's past are revealed, every character that enters the house is somehow changed (Daniel's widow mother finds a new love in photographer Chance, Chance's spinal cord injured son finds his love and restored faith, Merline's friend talks Merline into joining the restoration of the Sterling Opera House, Merline and Daniel become pregnant with twins, etc).

The problem this reader finds with this particular novel is the fairly mundane conversations the house has with the live in spirit Lillianoah: the idea of communication between a structure and a spirit is not a problem, but the banter too often becomes cute and diminishes the flow of the stories. The number of stories about the previous occupants of the house (sisters in love with the same sea captain, a tinker, a group of Romanian gypsies with the rather inappropriate name of Hooligans) also tend to dilute the beauty of Marchetto's very well researched and conceived and written story of the Indians and the importance of the coming of the white settlers to Honeysuckle Hill.

Yet as an example of how Marchetto is able to tell her stories using the matrix of a house as a constant in the flow of history, this second novel in her series is immensely readable and leaves no danglers without resolution. It is a well-written book from a writer who knows her craft and one who probably in retrospect will alter her emphasis on making the next `house' a speaking party of less importance in her next novel. Marchetto combines good writing with a fine sense of historical research, a winning combination for a wide audience. Grady Harp, April 07
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 19, 2007 12:26:52 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 10, 2007 4:44:48 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 20, 2007 4:07:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 20, 2007 8:27:29 PM PDT
04/20/07 11:25 pm - 27 of 32.

Today, on April 20 2007 as of 07:03 EST, GH posted three reviews. They are for different items: a movie DVD, a Sibelius CD, and a Bethoven CD. All three are immediately and in sync given 8 out of 9 'helpful' votes. Which, as you probably understand, makes me suspect that someone follows Grady, not checks out the items. Could it be the Notorious Grady Harp Voting Machine slowly starting again? On one of the items' pages the immediately preceding review is dated 2002 and has only 10 votes.

Originally posted at about 7 pm EST; now it's 8:40 pm EST and the vote count has become 15 of 16. Nearly doubled in an hour and a half! And what is especially funny, all three today's items go completely in sync! Grady, the times of voting need to be randomized.

And now, at 11:20 pm, it's 19 of 20. All three items, in sync, as before.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2007 5:04:01 PM PDT
MK says:

Let's take a page from the book of your success stories and try this:

Mr. Harp, are you truly reading the books, listening to the CD's, and watching the movies you review?

Do you have individuals working in concert to supply your reviews with positive votes?

If not, please explain the phenomena of your reviews attaining 30-45 positive votes each, sometimes in less than four hours.

Please don't respond to these questions as "Gunny" did before he admitted his true activity--"Why not ask me when I stopped beating my wife"--as this will be viewed, correctly, as an evasion.

We are waiting.


In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2007 5:49:33 PM PDT
Tick-tock, tick-tock.

(I'm not holding my breath though).
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