Books about Houses While Housebound

In February and March my book group read books about houses. The first, The Yellow House by Sarah Broom is about one family’s connection to a house in East New Orleans. Broom uses the house as the protagonist, almost a narrator, in a complicated, intriguing, and often sad story of her family. The book is in the style of a memoir, but it also chronicles not only this family, but also an entire neighborhood, including the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This is a fascinating book, and the writing is wonderful. It won the 2019 National Book Award.

The March book was the latest by Ann Patchett, The Dutch House. This novel, not unlike the memoir by Broom, has the house as the central character. Patchett’s tale of family dysfunction and siblings trying to make their way in the world is a poignant, sometimes funny, and most often sad account. The house itself, bought by the family’s father with all the furnishings included, has its own story of the Dutch family who first lived there. Their portraits hang over the new inhabitants as viewers watching this family’s story unfold. Ann Patchett is a wonderful writer, evoking all the depth and promise of the people attached to this house through the whole narrative. Another perfect read in this time when we are all becoming very attached to our houses!

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