Daughters Of The House Paperback – 11 Mar 1993
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Remarkable and beautifully written (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)
A brave and richly imagined novel, full of thrilling set pieces. The new prestige it seems likely to earn for one of our best writers is long overdue. (GUARDIAN)
Subtle and persuasive (COSMOPOLITAN)
An intense piece of writing, in which the transfigured mundane world of recipes, parental prohibitions and almost ritualised gossip is posed against official purity and religiosity, and shown to be superior. (TLS)
Utterly beguiling' Joanna TrollopeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished on 7 May 2013 by Nichola Thorpe
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 -... Read morePublished on 25 Aug. 2011 by Kate Hopkins
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. Read morePublished on 21 Dec. 2009 by BeeReader
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. Read morePublished on 4 July 2008 by Ms. B. H. Howe
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... Read more