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The Summer House: A Trilogy [Paperback]

Alice Thomas Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.00
Price: 9.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Paul Dry Books; Reprint edition (30 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589880862
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589880863
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 341,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Alice Thomas Ellis skewers the attitudes and expectations which her characters bring to love and marriage, both as they live their own lives and as they judge the lives of others. But she is also an understanding author, recognizing that their foibles and limitations stem from their upbringing and experience, as they muddle along as best they can, aided by each other, and sometimes the church. This three-part novel concerns the imminent marriage of twenty-year-old Margaret to Syl, a man in his forties, and is told through three points of view: Margaret, who does not love Syl but intends to go through with the wedding; Syl's mother, the sensible Mrs. Monro, who, abandoned by her husband, does not want the marriage to take place; and Lili, a friend of Margaret's mother from school in Egypt, who arrives in a whirlwind, determined to upset the status quo.
From Margaret we learn of her passionate first love and a shocking death that have occurred during the year she spent away at school in Egypt. Devoutly religious, Margaret is torn between the concepts of romantic and religious love, and she cannot seem to reconcile the church's teachings regarding love, sex, sin, and death. Mrs. Monro, an elderly lady for whom death is very real, if not imminent, is hiding secrets associated with her own past love life. For her, too, love is associated with death and God, though in ways vastly different from Margaret's experience. Into this mix comes Lili, half Egyptian, half English, a free spirit unconcerned with traditional, churchly definitions of sin, and sexually liberated in her own life. Lili is determined to save Margaret from the "pointless secular martyrdom" of marriage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 16 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fantastic read. Beautifully written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Commentary on Marriage, Motherhood & Secrets 20 Mar 2004
By Jana L. Perskie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alice Thomas Ellis' "The Summerhouse Trilogy" proves true the old adage, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Three interrelated novellas, "The Clothes In The Wardrobe," "The Skeleton In The Cupboard," and "The Fly In The Ointment" are each narrated by different characters and portray events leading up to a wedding. Three different woman with different points of view paint virtually the same scenes, and the same memories, viewed through different eyes. The reader only begins to see the whole picture when all the parts are combined and can be viewed as a whole.
Ms. Ellis writes this penetrating character study with wit, irony and, at times, great poignancy. Margaret, a young English woman returns home after a dramatic and traumatic visit with family friends in Egypt. She finds herself suddenly, unhappily engaged to the man next door, Syl, who is twice her age. Margaret lives with her domineering mother whose husband abandoned her for another years ago. Syl lives with his mother, Mrs. Monro, a strong figure who also had difficulties in her marriage and is aware that death is not far off. Lili, an old friend of Margaret's mother, enters center stage, acting as a catalyst to stir up memories, secrets and events to come.
Ms. Ellis insightfully explores the human drama and the various forms of love with sensitivity and a unique gentleness. Her character development is extraordinary. She creates three totally different women, interconnected through friendship, marriage and love, and gives them tremendous depth. I highly recommend this beautifully written trilogy.
JANA
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The honeymoon will soon put the roses back in her cheeks." 4 Mar 2004
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alice Thomas Ellis skewers the attitudes and expectations which her characters bring to love and marriage, both as they live their own lives and as they judge the lives of others. But she is also an understanding author, recognizing that their foibles and limitations stem from their upbringing and experience, as they muddle along as best they can, aided by each other, and sometimes the church. This three-part novel concerns the imminent marriage of twenty-year-old Margaret to Syl, a man in his forties, and is told through three points of view: Margaret, who does not love Syl but intends to go through with the wedding; Syl's mother, the sensible Mrs. Monro, who, abandoned by her husband, does not want the marriage to take place; and Lili, a friend of Margaret's mother from school in Egypt, who arrives in a whirlwind, determined to upset the status quo.
From Margaret we learn of her passionate first love and a shocking death that have occurred during the year she spent away at school in Egypt. Devoutly religious, Margaret is torn between the concepts of romantic and religious love, and she cannot seem to reconcile the church's teachings regarding love, sex, sin, and death. Mrs. Monro, an elderly lady for whom death is very real, if not imminent, is hiding secrets associated with her own past love life. For her, too, love is associated with death and God, though in ways vastly different from Margaret's experience. Into this mix comes Lili, half Egyptian, half English, a free spirit unconcerned with traditional, churchly definitions of sin, and sexually liberated in her own life. Lili is determined to save Margaret from the "pointless secular martyrdom" of marriage.
A sensitive, philosophical exploration of love and sex, God and sin, and life and death, the novel is also an examination of the compromises people make, willingly or unwillingly, in order to find happiness during their lives and loves. Sparkling dialogue and thoughtful interior monologues reveal the sadness, loneliness, and confusion within many of the characters, while Ellis's sense of irony and ability to create absurd scenes lift the mood with cathartic comedy. Gently satirical and full of wise observations, this is an insightful and thoroughly entertaining study of several characters, interconnected by love and marriage, as they try to "muddle through." Mary Whipple
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter amid some of life's darkest tragedies 6 Feb 2004
By Catherine Decker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Part of the fun of the novel is creating a coherent sense of plot in your mind since the book is essentially three character's views of the same few days. As you experience different points of view, you get the pleasure of "Ah, Ha!" as you piece together what motivated certain characters and caused them to act as they did. There is murder, there is adultery, there is abuse: this is a dark world with people in pain. But there is also laughter and love along with vivid, rich glimpses of past moments. The novel challenges our conventional judgements of human behavior, making the outrageous logical and the unforgivable, forgivable.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale within a tale within a tale 9 Feb 2014
By Lavanya Ramanujan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I saw this book in the 2013 list of recommendations from NPR and bought it because the idea was intriguing. A sequence of events seen from three different perspectives. And to make it more alluring, the three perspectives were all from women. And what widely varied tales they wove us! It was absolutely riveting. It is the sort of book that keeps you flipping back over to read a particularly delightfully layered passage or turn back to find the fold that is common between the narratives. The voices of the characters are so entirely different, it was astonishing to me that one author had written them all. The beauty to me of course was the silent spaces in between. The subtle hint of things left unsaid or things hidden behind the curtain.
It was thought provoking, sophisticated and an absolute delight to a person who enjoys good prose!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing work 25 Dec 2013
By Kay Abell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have never read a book quite like this one and it has become one of my favorites. It's dark humor is captivating. Highly recommended!
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