Friday, August 25, 2006

The Hills at Home by Nancy Clark

Occasionally I have epiphanies about my personal taste--like I've long known that I'm a sucker for sports movies as well as movies with cute little dark-haired boys in them, which explains my favorite film (The Black Stallion)--and after reading this novel, I realized I love Big House books. As in, books set in big houses. The Secret Garden, George Colt's nonfiction book appropriately titled The Big House, The English Patient, Delta Wedding, The Remains of the Day ... I think maybe I like the way a house can put characters into each other's lives so that strange intersections occur and relationships shift. This could certainly happen in a small house, even more so I suspect, but I'm still a sucker for the big houses (probably from early readings of Big House Brit Lit).

Anyway, The Hills at Home is about a big family of various ages that all come home to stay in their big former house, which normally only has one old lady in it, and some degree of hijinks ensue. But mostly nothing happens or very small things happen, and this is a very long book. And yet I found it lovely. I think because the setting was so well done and line by line it was so clever. I actually felt like it should be a tv show (I also had this reaction to the movie The Royal Tennenbaums) because it had all the components of a good narrative but no arc. So the place and the people could be visited over and over for a variety of stories.

1 comment:

Ruthann said...

I agree! It felt as if I was reading about my family - a space of time that we've been enforced together. Nothing much occurs, but talk and connection and no matter what, family. I've read all 3 books now by Nancy Clark and wish for more. These characters are real. (ok, maybe a tad bit wittier than real, but it is a novel for sale after all).