#ACreads: 'The Hundred-Year House'
We initially chose The Hundred-Year House as August's Austin Chronicle Book Club selection for the back-to-school angle, and it's true that Rebecca Makkai's new novel is set among academics in a college town. But, like Austin itself, there's a lot more going on in this House than what happens on campus.
Part ghost story, part breezy satire, part mystery, and part meditation on the nature of fate, it's a quirky Russian nesting doll of a book with a killer plot twist in the second half. It's also, like our first #ACreads pick, a great read.
Doug and Zee are an academic couple who've gone to live with Zee's wealthy parents in a suburb on Chicago's North Shore while Doug struggles to finish his book on modernist poet Edwin Parfitt. The house they move into has a long history and one in which Parfitt himself played a role. Formerly an artists' colony, the estate is haunted by the ghosts of creativity past – and possibly by a few actual ghosts, too. The house breeds secrets, and Doug and Zee soon become involved in intrigues with another young couple sharing the house with them. The novel's light, funny first half is littered with clues whose significance is only revealed after the halfway mark, when the book suddenly delves backward in time, exploring the mystery of the house.
Is Laurelfield really haunted? Will Doug and Zee's marriage last? Who was Edwin Parfitt, and what is Zee's mom hiding up in the attic? Among the clues: a rusted gun part, an amateur painting, a jade monkey, and the ugliest prom dress in history. So sharpen your pencils, put on your back-to-school outfit, read the book, and join in our Twitter discussion on August 25, 7-8pm, using the hashtag #ACreads. And as a special feature this month, the author herself, Rebecca Makkai, will tune in at the end of the chat to answer your questions about the book. (Don't worry, she swears she won't read the earlier chat, so don't be shy about voicing your opinions!)See you then!