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The Carriage House: A Novel Hardcover – March 5, 2013
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For 30 years, William Adair’s daughters were the light of his life: breathtakingly beautiful Isabelle, promising actress Elizabeth, and tennis ace Diana, who, in his eyes, seemed to shine brightest of all. In the wake of a stroke, William makes the sobering realization that his girls aren’t the perfect children he’d always thought them to be. Isabelle has a drinking problem, Elizabeth is getting a divorce, and Diana has lost both her tennis swing and the swing in her step. To make matters worse, William’s wife, Margaux, is suffering from dementia. When some unfortunate zoning laws cause William to lose possession of a lovely carriage house built by his grandfather, an inebriated Isabelle sets fire to the place. The act lights a spark in aspiring architect Diana, who goes on a mission to rebuild it. Meanwhile, as Margaux begins to fade, William’s longtime friend Adelia reenters his life, prompting his daughters to wonder about her motivations. In this engaging debut, Hall renders an intriguing cast of characters striving to find hope in the midst of despair. --Allison Block
“Ambitious…Intricate…A splendid, carefully-plotted, open-hearted novel.” (James Zug The Boston Globe)
“[A] marvelously mature debut…Hall displays a Whartonian malice…[and] seamlessly transitions among the many individual points of view…The novel’s technical proficiency and its gratifyingly nuanced ending make it easy to recommend." (Sam Sacks The Wall Street Journal)
“[The Carriage House is] a twisted family saga lodged in John Cheever and Wes Anderson.” (Rebecca Bengal Vogue.com)
“Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this debut novel follows three daughters who work together to restore their father’s health and save their Main Line, Philadelphia home and all it represents.” (O, the Oprah magazine)
“Louisa Hall deftly explores the notions of romantic and familial regret in her debut novel…The Carriage House is full of compelling personal portraits—characters who’ll stay with you long after you put the book down.” (Charles Ealy Austin American-Statesman)
“Hall provides keen insight…A thoughtful, character-driven novel.” (Christine Perkins Library Journal)
“Hall’s decision to shift the perspective to include multiple voices deepends the reader’s empathy for characters who were more minor (and noxious) in Persuasion.” (Kimberley Jones Austin Chronicle)
"Louisa Hall writes about the wars waged between neighbors and family members with extraordinary sympathy and a keen sense of humor. Part Jane Austen, part John Cheever, this tale of upheaval in a suburban Philadelphia household marks the debut of a stunning new writer." (Philipp Meyer, author of The Son)
"Every sentence in The Carriage House is full of clarity, attention, and grace. Louisa Hall is a writer to be admired.” (Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds)
“The Carriage House is gorgeously detailed and rife with betrayal, heartbreak, nostalgia, lost love, and possibilities for redemption. You will ache for the Adair family, cringe at their mistakes, and plead with them to make peace with each other before it’s too late. In her smart and insightful debut, Louisa Hall examines the ways in which we fail and forgive others—and ourselves.” (Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise)
"Graceful prose... The themes of memory and nostalgia threading through the novel are especially resonant." (The New York Times Book Review)
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Top Customer Reviews
I liked the daughters. And I liked the way the book is written with chapters exploring the internal dialogues of various characters. It is true, as one neighbor intuites, that they cling almost sullenly to disappointment and failure. And these moments of self pity are not their finest. But I think the writing fleshes them out to a more dimensional presentation. Of the three, Diane's struggle to reclaim the parts of herself she thinks lost is the most compelling to me.
I liked the story overall, and I kind of got sucked into the drama of saving the carriage house now bereft and derelict. The plot drew me in and I found the writing to have moments of intense insight. The book is entertaining and I found myself thinking over some of the life choices of the characters between readings; I like that quality in a book.