The Shell House Paperback – 4 Sep 2003
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"Powerful, challenging reading for older teens" (Sunday Mirror)
"Compelling . . . Elegiac, even literary" (David Self TES)
"Celevrly intertwines two stories and encompasses some big themes . . . Intelligent and perceptive" (Guardian)
"A novel to read, think about, and then read again" (Independent)
"[An] enjoyably meaty read . . . Newbery writes wonderfully" (Financial Times)
The Shell House is a beautifully written and sensitive portrayal of love, sexuality and spirituality over two generations. Greg's casual interest in the history of a ruined mansion becomes more personal as he slowly discovers the tragic events that overwhelmed its last inhabitants. Set against a background of the modern day and the First World War, Greg's contemporary beliefs become intertwined with those of Edmund, a foot soldier whose confusion about his sexuality and identity mirrors Greg's own feelings of insecurity. This is a complex and thought-provoking book, written with elegance and subtlety. It will change the way you think.See all Product description
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You easily fall in love with the characters, and almost mourn the ending of the story as you realize that it has, indeed, ended. I love books in all shapes and sizes, but this one has to be one of the few that I've read again, simply because it was that enjoyable. Be prepared to cry, be prepared to think, be prepared to consider this a brilliantly well-written novel, because that is what it is.
The Shell House is a dual narrative, going back and forth in time the roughly present day and First World War, following the lives of Greg and Edmund. Greg is a sixth former with an interest in photography who finds a new friend in Faith, the daughter of a Friend of Graveney Hall who are doing the home up, and discovers he's seeing his friend Jordan in a new light. Twenty one-year-old Edmund is fighting in the First World War, where he met Alex, the man who opened his eyes to what love is. He is struggling to work out how to live the life he wants, with Alex, when he is expected to come home, take over Graveney Hall, marry and produce a new heir. Edmund wants a life of love, but has been born into a life of responsibility.
Greg is a photographer, Edmund is a poet. So each chapter, depending on who's it is, is opened with a description of a photo - a photo Greg took, a photo that Greg would have taken if he had his camera on him, or a photo he's seen - or a poem written by Edmund. The photos and poems relate to what happens in each chapter, and they give you a fantastic insight into the personality and feelings of each character.
Although their stories are very different, both characters experience similar things. There are questions of sexuality and religion, which also plays a huge part in the story, for both characters. Edmund was a believer who lost his faith, Greg was an atheist who starts to question. I find it interesting how differently Edmund and Greg view their sexuality. Edmund lives in a time where homosexuality is completely unacceptable but has no issues with his sexuality and is happy in his love for Alex.
The Shell House is beautifully written. Some passages are just so deliciously put together, you want to read them out loud. Sometimes poetic, always gorgeous. The imagery is beautiful, and there are certain ideas the characters have, on love, on sex, on words, that really resonated with me because they are so like my own, but expressed in a way I would never have been able to.I have literally been copying out sections for myself, to read whenever I wish. If I was going to give this book one criticism, despite the beautiful language, Greg and Jordan used language that is a little old fashioned for present day; I don't hear teens saying "Blast!", "You little oik!", or "Damnation!" There is some swearing in the book, so it's not as if they're used instead of swear words. It just seemed a little strange and jarring.
The Shell House is an amazing story, about people, about a house, about love, sexuality and faith. A beautiful, wonderful story, and one I would highly recommend!
Its main character is a teenage boy called Greg, who comes across a burnt out ruin of an old house. There he meets a girl, who is a devout christian, and with her trys to discover the story behind the house. At the same time he is dealing with the issues of his own sexuality.
The book is well written, but is a little slow to start and slightly confusing with the switches between time at first. However, once you get in to it, you will not be able to put it down. One thing, I think this should really be classified as an adult book, with its themes and some of it's scenes.
Please read this, it's not possible to read this and dislke it!!!!!!
In the story, he is forced to confront religion, abuse, prejudice and sex due to his two new found friends (one of which he meets at the house) and a younger bully at his school. We also find out about the previous owner of the Shell House who fought in the First World War and also had to deal with thought-provoking issues.
Linda Newbery (the author) writes the book elegantly and descriptively yet manages to include realistic modern day dialogue and terms of speech.
This book is definetly not suitable for anyone under the age of twelve as it contains a number of sex scenes and terms of profanity and really should be classified as adult. Yet it still has a huge amount of artistic merit.
The middle parts of the book are so outstanding and page-turning that when I was reading it I became very unsociable and annoyed if anyone interrupted me.
However, the beginning is slow and contains unnecessary amounts of description and the ending is imcomplete, confusing and spoils what could have eventually turned out to be a modern day classic.