Tag Archives: Neighbors

Review: Other People’s Houses

Other People's Houses

Other People’s Houses
By Abbi Waxman
Berkley Books, 9780399587924, April 3, 2018, 352pp.

The Short of It:

Grab a cold drink and clear your afternoon for this one.

The Rest of It:

I’ve been reading some pretty good books lately.

Frances Bloom is THAT mom. She’s the carpool mom and people in the neighborhood look up to her. She’s a friendly approachable type, reliable, and thoughtful but as she shuttles the neighborhood kids to and from school each day, she can’t help but see the imperfections of her own little neighborhood,

Her close, married friend is having an affair with a much younger man, affecting the neighborhood in many ways. One of the moms on the street is MIA (what’s that about?). Her cousin who happens to live just down the street from her is wanting another baby even though her partner may not want one. With all this going on around her, Frances begins to doubt her own happiness. Does she have a happy marriage? Has the thirty pounds she’s gained over the years driven a wedge between her and her husband?

This all sounds rather domestic and fluffy but I have to say that it’s pretty realistic as far as neighborhoods go. If you really pay attention while walking the dog, you see things. Reading this book is like flinging a window open and sticking your face right into your neighbor’s house.

The story is a bit scandalous and there’s some language. It feels kind of naughty and wrong. I can’t lie, I ate it up. Because along with wrong, there’s a lot that’s right. There’s a lot of honesty within these characters and truthfully, I could relate to several of these families in some way.

There are mixed reviews of this book. I’d hazard to guess that those who had trouble with it, probably couldn’t relate to any of the families in the story. But if you’ve ever done a carpool, been on the PTA with a bunch of catty wenches, lived in a tight-knit community, and had your best friend’s marriage fall apart, you’ll find plenty to relate to because there’s a little bit of everything in here and I found it to be pretty authentic in the telling.

Plus, it has  some juicy bits and at one point I was laughing out loud.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review, Tour & Giveaway: The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden

The Girls in the Garden
By Lisa Jewell
Atria Books, Hardcover, 9781476792217, June 2016, 320pp.

The Short of It:

The “girls” in this garden have plenty of secrets and that made this a really hard book to put down.

The Rest of It:

*No Spoilers*

After their house is burned down by their mentally ill father, Grace and Pip find themselves in a new flat in London. Their mother, Clare, hasn’t given them all of the details of their father’s care but the reality is that she’s afraid of what their future holds and not sure if the marriage can be saved.

In the meantime, she’s moved them to this lovely neighborhood which includes a private park (garden) for the inhabitants who live there. This common area is where all of the families hang out, mainly the children, so Grace and Pip find themselves the focus of much scrutiny if not friendship. As they begin to make a place for themselves, Clare finds herself fascinated with her neighbors, mainly the seemingly perfect Adele and her attractive husband Leo.

Then, in the midst of all this perfection, one of the girls is found unconscious after a neighborhood celebration and everyone has their own suspicions as to what happened.

This was a really good read. There is so much to consider. The characters are well-developed and Jewell does an excellent job of tossing doubt around without being too obvious. The setting was a huge draw for me. You know that scene in the movie Notting Hill where Anna Scott and William Thacker jump the fence into that private park? Well, the setting in this book is just like that one. Green, lush, private and filled with secrets. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by so much beauty but also alarming to always be on display, There is no privacy since all of their homes open onto this common area. Imagine kids coming and going and adults partying at all hours, etc.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Each and every time I picked it up I just wanted to keep reading. Jewell’s handling of what happened that night, along with the very real concerns that Clare has regarding her family, are balanced beautifully.

Jewell has written lots of other books so now I feel the need to read them all. Have you read any of her books?

Lisa Jewell

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Source: Review & giveaway copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.