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The House on Fortune Street: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, May 5, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The absorbing latest from Livesey (Homework) opens multiple perspectives on the life of Dara MacLeod, a young London therapist, partly by paying subtle homage to literary figures and works. The first of four sections follows Keats scholar Sean Wyman: his girlfriend, Abigail, is Dara's best friend, and the couple lives upstairs from Dara in the titular London house. While Dara tries to coax her boyfriend Edward to move out of the house he shares with his ex-girlfriend and daughter, Sean receives a mysterious letter implying that Abigail is having an affair, and both relationships start to fall apart. The second section, set during Dara's childhood, is narrated by Dara's father, who has a strange fascination with Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and shares Dodgson's creepy interest in young girls. Dara's meeting with Edward dominates part three, which mirrors the plot of Jane Eyre, and the final part, reminiscent of Great Expectations, is told mainly from Abigail's college-era point of view. The pieces cross-reference and fit together seamlessly, with Dara's fate being revealed by the end of part one and explained in the denouement. Livesey's use of the classics enriches the narrative, giving Dara a larger-than-life resonance. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Life has a way of parceling out both good luck and bad, and for the residents of the duplex on the ironically named Fortune Street, the latter was regrettably the case. Failed Keats scholar Sean left his wife for Abigail, a charismatic, fiercely independent actress, only to lose her to a close friend and writing partner. Dara, Abigail’s best friend from college and downstairs neighbor, moved to London hoping to establish a relationship with her estranged father, Cameron, only to be betrayed by a duplicitous lover. Dara’s desire to uncover the reason he abandoned their family prompts Cameron to acknowledge an unsavory part of his past. And when Abigail loses both her oldest friend and true love, she is forced to reevaluate everything she once believed about herself. Intricately weaving the cause and effect of each character’s circumstances into four self-contained but essentially linked episodes, Livesey, polished and intriguing as ever, incisively explores the sinuous themes of regret and responsibility, truth and trust with an understated yet tenacious certainty. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Each character has feeling he/she believes are wrong. Each is prey to luck in the revelation of those feelings. The development of the characters is a bit uneven. Some of the segues are more startling than subtle. To me the motivations of Abigail are perplexing in their strength. However the book bears a number of suing thoughts and treads some risky territory in delving into one character especially.
Cameron has a love for young girls. He knows it is wrong. The thought of acting on it is abhorrent to him. He has never done so, he only wants their company and to take pictures of them to keep. We come to know him as a decent man and a good father before we understand his secret. I struggle with it throughout the book. He never has those feelings for Dara,but does for her best friend. The question asked of him and of us is whether his regard in its intent was harmful? Livesey does an excellent job of never closing the question. Certainly circumstances come to bear on the fact of a secret as hidden. For me, his story is the most evocative, although the other characters are thought provoking as well. I enjoyed the linkage that is made with each one with their own guiding Callicrates author. This adds an interesting depth to the work. Again most evocative is Cameron and the preoccupations of the writer of Alice in Wonderland.
The proposes some new questions on old themes, ending with a proposal by one of the characters for an alternate ending to Great Expectations in which Pip and Estella reconcile. Dara suggests we are given both endings and allowed to pick our preference. The book ends with this provoking note. I recommend it.