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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to treasure
Given its French setting, I would immediately recommend this exquisitely written novel to anyone who has marvelled over the consummate skill behind Monet’s Impressionist paintings of Rouen Cathedral: indistinct blurs which come into focus when you step away from them. And, in a literary context, one of those novels about a difficult and ambiguous past, where the...
Published on 25 Jun 2003 by JOHN

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars HHHmmmmm
I came on here and read the reviews for this book and thought oh this is going to be good even though one person had disagreed and I now have to agree with them.
Thank god this was only 172 pages long. Some parts I found boring others I thought were starting to get good then it went back to boring. I mean who wants to read a chapter on how somoeone has a poo!!!!!!!!!
Published on 4 July 2008 by Ms. B. H. Howe


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to treasure, 25 Jun 2003
By 
JOHN (PARIS/FRANCE) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
Given its French setting, I would immediately recommend this exquisitely written novel to anyone who has marvelled over the consummate skill behind Monet’s Impressionist paintings of Rouen Cathedral: indistinct blurs which come into focus when you step away from them. And, in a literary context, one of those novels about a difficult and ambiguous past, where the reader reconstructs that past along with the main characters.
Considering that so little is explicitly said, the summer spent by two adolescent girls in post-Second World War France is vividly rendered. The allusive titles of the chapters - “The Frying-Pan”, “The Oranges”, “The Ironing-Board” - are an important clue to the oppressively domestic setting, but also to the way in which deep and disturbing truths lie behind apparently ordinary objects. And the same is true of words. “Her words shot out in a clatter”, reads one sentence about half-way through the narrative. And, throughout the novel, words do indeed clatter, and resound and reverberate, echoing and amplifying earlier words, combining to show how deep and unpleasant truths are to be found beneath platitudinous surfaces.
The veneer of civilised behaviour is always thin and precarious in Michèle Roberts’s novel. And there are dark forests and dark cellars to mirror the dark secrets the novel gradually unfolds. The whole novel is a dark diamond, and one which demands to be contemplated more than once.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immediately draws the reader in and won't let go!, 5 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
"Daughters of the House, by Michele Roberts, is an outstanding novel. Roberts retells the story of St. Therese of Lisieux with a new twist. It is a historical fiction set in the 1950's, about Therese's life before she enters the convent. It is littered with little details to make the story more interesting and believable. Her way of describing things is so simple, that it incorporates the reader into the story. The characters, too, are believable and likeable. "Daughters of the House" gives a glimpse of what life was like for Leonie and Therese in France. The secrets they discover and uncover through their childhood games are amazingly inexplicable. The light humorous tone is a magnificent contrast as opposed to the gloomy secrets that lie withing the walls of the family residence. Roberts' novel is fascinating and absorbing. Immediately, "Daughters of the House" draws the reader in, and won't let go. It is an excellent story that surpasses many historical fiction novels.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning book, 28 Oct 2002
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
Michele Roberts's 'Daughters of the House' is an eminently re-readable book, haunting and beautiful. Taking as its central conceit the sanitised figure of St. Therese, the novel examines the circumstances bringing her to this point, revealing a web of intrigue and betrayal.
One of Roberts's preoccupations in this novel is the nature of relationships between women, particularly as young girls fighting for both individuality and acceptance. Therese and her 'cousin' Leonie exist almost as the mirror of one another, bound together by their exclusion from family secrets.
The novel is beautifully written, but unobtrusively so; it is carefully constructed to portray a sense of the pre-linguistic state in which the girls exist. It's a truly extraordinary book that I've read at least half-a-dozen times, and will be reading again; every reading reveals another slant, just as Roberts looks beyond the saint to the woman.
The Virgin Mary haunts this book, suggesting the paradoxical nature of femininity that Leonie and Therese are expected to conform to; in this sense, Michele Roberts can be seen as a successor to Margaret Atwood and Sylvia Plath.
In short: this is a fantastic book, well worth putting time aside for, both to read it, and then simply to consider the points it raises. Wonderful, and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bigger than the Blurb, 7 Jan 2010
By 
HANNAH ROWLEY (Bournemouth) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
This book divulges into the lives of two cousins who have both been brought up in two very different cultures. One cousin has been brought up in England with her French Mother and English Father, the other has been raised in France where the family has lived since the war.
At first you may find yourself slightly confused about the organization of the book as it starts near the end of the story where the cousins are meeting again for the first time in many years. It then starts to tell the story of their upbringing from when they were young children who once played together, which eventually leads on to explain their estrangement and feelings towards one another. The book then goes on to tell how it has affected their relationship and themselves now they're older. This order of events is carefully put together, meaning you find yourself constantly looking for reasons as to why their relationship is as it is, helping you to fully understand the ending in greater depth.
If you like your reads straight to the point then this isn't the book for you. With a story where the characters, scenes and objects are as fully built as the plot, you need to have an interest in description in order to keep full attention. Whereas if this sounds like you, then the attention to detail will greatly gratify your needs.
The blurb for Daughter's of the House does not give the book justice as it is a lot more than two girls discovering secrets from their parents past, the way Roberts develops the cousins relationship throughout the book is as compelling to read as the plot itself. Overall, brilliantly written making you want to know more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Memorable, 25 Aug 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
The book that really made Michele Robert famous: a lyrical, exquisitely written tale of family tensions in a Normandy village, of the dark legacy of World War II, and of cousin - or is it sibling? - rivalry. Roberts captures what life in 1950s rural France was like perfectly, and there are some beautiful descriptions of the family home, of food (always a Roberts strong point) and of the dramatic, imaginative world of the child. The Catholic themes in the book - Leonie rebels against Catholicism as a child because it stifles her, Therese tries to get approval from adults by aiming to become a saint - are also powerfully explored. There are some frustrating elements to the novel. We're left with an enormous amount of unanswered questions at the end: what exactly happened in the village during World War II? Are Therese and Leonie sisters or cousins and who was their father? Does Therese survive her violent action in the penultimate chapter? What was Antoinette so afraid of? One could have done with the book being slightly longer, so that more of these questions could have been explored. I was also slightly disappointed that the lively Leonie became a simple, rather bad-tempered housewife in middle-age (though this was compensated for by Therese becoming so much more sympathetic as an adult). However, these are small quibbles about a book that, whatever questions it doesn't answer, is a beautiful and thought-provoking read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beguiling, 7 May 2013
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
I would never have chosen this book for myself. I read it as part of the required reading for my degree, and after the first thirty pages, I abandoned it, bored. However, I pushed myself to finish it in time for my lecture- and I gulped it down in one! I admit it's a slow starter, but I found the multi-layered tale of Léonie and Thérese absolutely fascinating. The descriptions of French provincial life are so evocative, I felt I was sitting in a corner of the oft-described kitchen or watching the characters in the leafy woods. As the tale unfolds, you start to understand things that at first seemed bizarre. In fact, as soon as I finished the novel, I began re-reading it, keen to have the insight that a second reading brings and pick up on things I hadn't the first time. I think it will be even more fascinating on the third reading, and then the fourth. Roberts is coming to lecture in my local area this summer, and after reading this, I will certainly be attending.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars HHHmmmmm, 4 July 2008
By 
Ms. B. H. Howe "book worm" (england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
I came on here and read the reviews for this book and thought oh this is going to be good even though one person had disagreed and I now have to agree with them.
Thank god this was only 172 pages long. Some parts I found boring others I thought were starting to get good then it went back to boring. I mean who wants to read a chapter on how somoeone has a poo!!!!!!!!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 21 Dec 2009
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
Oh dear this was a book I struggled to want to carry on with. Only because of seing rave reviews did I carry on expecting to be hooked but sadly wasn't. I finished it and enjoyed parts but wouldn't read it again and would only recommend with a caution that some will love it and some won't!

I think maybe it was the high expectation which didn't help.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Nice' but is that enough?, 2 April 2007
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
I'm afraid I disagree [...].

It certainly is a nice book to read but I found myself having to really get involved with the characters in order to actually become interested. The setting is good - post Second World War France but that was never discussed in great detail. Occasional references to the Jewish people living in the community and relations with German soldiers. However the French culture never seemed to be discussed. Maybe this is my own lack of understanding of French art and philosophy at the time.

The plot itself is simple, 2 girls who are cousins find out a secret. The chapters (as mentioned) inform on the lifestyle the girls and their respective families live. The writing style is good and Roberts does give you an insight into the relationship between two peers of their age. Pleased this was a short book and one which I wouldn't read again.
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chance to intimately relate with a great writers' creativity and inspiration, 3 Jan 2007
By 
J. Cooper - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Daughters Of The House (Paperback)
One of my favourite authors who has inspired me in so many ways. I was fortunate enough to meet her on the Greek island of Skyros on one of her "Writers Lab" workshops during 2006. She continues to offer the opportunity to aspiring writers to get together and share ideas with regular workshops in both Greece and on the Thai island of Koh Chang. I understand the next workshop in Thailand is happening in January 2007 with a further workshop later in the year in Greece.

Sharing time with a fantastic author, blissful weather and fine company - that really is a good start to the New Year.
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Daughters Of The House
Daughters Of The House by Michele Roberts (Paperback - 11 Mar 1993)
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