Occasionally, while browsing through the bookshelf your eyes fall on a book that looks so beautiful that you immediately decide to read it irrespective of the genre or the author. I had this experience while looking through Story Cartel when my eyes fell on The House Guest. The cover is so beautiful and it reminded me of the days when I used to read unabridged Wordsworth classics. Even though my heart had made the decision to read it, my mind, always the practical one, hesitated. Will this be worth my time? How will the language be? Thousands of questions filled my mind. Going through the profile, the book was suggested for all fans of Jane Austen. Who can say no to Jane Austen or anything similar? With this thought, I started my eventful journey through this book by Deborah L. Norris.
The House Guest tells the story of Maggie Davis, a middle aged widow residing in a family inherited Victorian Mansion at Tilden with her daughter Jenna. This house also serves as a bed and breakfast to a depleting clientele. Apart from the guests, the other major characters are Lee, the friend and neighbor of Maggie who spends most of her time at Maggie’s house and Anna Bouchard, widow of Doc Bouchard who is estranged from her business magnate son who resides at Omaha. William Bouchard, son of Anna and Doc Bouchard, is a scheming businessman who tries to steal Maggie of her inheritance and wants to put Anna at a facility for seniors. Noah, a carpenter and his wolf Lobos are also an important part of the story. Noah comes to Tilden in search of work and is guided to Maggie’s bed and breakfast for accommodation. Soon, he becomes an integral part of the all-female household giving it the much needed male presence. Will Noah win Maggie’s heart and find a more permanent place in the life of Maggie and Jenna? Will William succeed in his scheming to get Maggie ousted from the home of her ancestors?
The book blurb and the foreword prepare us for a novel filled with surprises and mysteries without even a single dull minute. The events in the foreword of the book are so intense and thrilling that we believe the book blurb to be true and fill our mind with expectations. Alas, these events are recounted only once in the entire book and is completely discarded without any importance. The author has tried to introduce various twists in the book including murder and conspiracy but none of these are fully explored and they fizzle out like firework in rain. There is also a chapter, which if properly executed could have elevated the entire premise of the story to an unanticipated level of intensity. Sadly, it was handled in a manner contrary to my expectations. Apart from the plot, many of the characters in the book including the protagonist are flat and one dimensional. Barring Anna and Lee, all other characters could have been developed further. Jenna and Maggie are too sweet and Noah, too brooding. Even the romance between the lead characters is just a promise of a blossom that failed to bloom.
However, the book does provide for a lot of emotional moments between the characters. Anna and Maggie has a mother-daughter relationship with a lot of love flowing between them. Anna, an epitome of courage, bestows Maggie with everyday wisdom and Maggie provides Anna with emotional support and care. A reflection of this relationship can be seen in Lee and Jenna, where Lee mentors the young Jenna with a lot of affection and attention. Jenna also reciprocates this feeling to the fullest extent. Comic relief is provided to the reader through the interactions between Lee, a staunch believer who does not hesitate to manipulate the quotes of The Bible for her personal arguments, and Anna, an outspoken and practical believer who questions Lee’s conservative approach to life. Fred, a guest at the inn who pays Maggie through free dishwasher samples, with his intense love for food also leaves the readers in splits. At the start of each chapter, the author dedicates a few sentences to describe the weather. This reflects the mood of the characters and gives us a prelude to the chapter. Each chapter also begins with a l quote by the author that is breathtakingly beautiful.
Overall, though well written, this book did not turn out to be my cup of tea. My imaginations were not kindled and I was unable to identify or relate much with the characters. However, perspectives would definitely vary from individual to individual and this could be one for you if you are game for it Please do let me know your opinion on the book.
Favourite Quote : “When someone you treasure becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
Favourite Character : Anna Bouchard
Anna is a proud character full of love and wisdom who does not let her personal tragedies affect her cheerful composure.
Link to the author’s webpage : Deborah L. Norris
I had received the e-copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange of an honest review and this does not influence my opinion about the book.