“Our House” by Louise Candlish
Fi returns home from a work trip away for a few days to find another family moving into her house. What follows then is the unravelling of how things got to that point and what happens after it. It’s hard to give any more detail than that because it will give the plot away, sorry!
How is the plot constructed?
The story is told primary from three narrative viewpoints. The first is a video transcript of an interview with Fi, one of the main characters, the second is in the form of a Word document written by Bram, Fi’s husband. Both of these tell the story in retrospect, and the third is an omniscient narrator who tells us what is happening to Fi and Bram in the present.
When and where is it set?
Most of the action is in London, but there are some parts which are briefly set in mainland Europe in the present day.
My thoughts on the book:
I can’t remember what first attracted me to this book when I saw it on Amazon. I think it was something to do with the cover picture that intrigued me, and then the blurb sort of hooked me in. However, that fascination and intrigue only took me so far and it took me a long while to settle into the style of the book and the way it swapped and changed between the three narrative viewpoints that I mentioned above. I was bored at first, and I couldn’t see the sense in the narrative switching between them, and I was ready to give up multiple times in the first bit. However, there was a particular point (around 15% of the way through) where the plot began to heat up and there was a particular encounter between Bram and “Mike” and it suddenly became a must finish book after all.
I am one of those readers who is so immersed in a book that if it’s good enough (and this one is) the characters stay with me in between reading sessions. But I’m also one of those readers who having been so immersed in a book that it literally lives in and around me all the time I’m reading it, that as it comes to the finishing line (handy percentage counter on a Kindle helps ratchet up the tension) that I begin to dread the ending at around 90%. Dread it? Yes, but not for the reason you may think. You may think that I dread it ending because the characters will no longer occupy my mind (that’s part of it, but if the writing is good enough and the characters are believable and strong enough then they will live on for days, weeks, months yet), but the biggest reason is that up to that point the book has been so good, dread starts to set in about whether the ending will match up to the rest. I needn’t have worried. As the ending starts to play out, I was literally breathless reading it and I was second guessing every decision the characters made, and found myself rooting for a particular character that for the first two thirds of the book I was prepared to loathe and be happy to see sail over a cliff.
But isn’t that the beauty and the power of a good book? That the character that you set out hating becomes one that you root for, or the one who you are sympathetic with suddenly does something that makes you fall out with them? That you are literally holding your breath because you know something a particular character doesn’t, and you want to reach into your book and shout at them to STOP!!!!
As the story unfolds, the reader is taken on a fantastic journey of human relationships and we explore the different ways that people treat each other, both for good and ill. What struck me most of all was that Bram’s situation is one that could easily happen to any of us, and how easy it is for our lives to unravel if we pull on a particular thread too much.
Any other thoughts?
This would make a fantastic TV series.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes, without doubt. It is one of those books that slips between genres, and although it has won an award as a crime thriller, it would also suit people who are interested in contemporary literature and the human condition generally.