Customer Reviews for

The Irresistible Henry House

Average Rating 3.5
( 80 )
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5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(32)

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(14)

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(11)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 5
  • Posted May 16, 2010

    Practice makes IMperfect

    Lisa Grunwald created a look at what life might have been like for a Practice Baby raised as part of a Home Economics course provided by colleges across the country from 1919 to 1969. I had never heard of such a thing, and apparently most people are as unaware as I was that this ever happened. The author says she was shocked to find this bit of information, which is what inspired her to hypothesize the effects on the child.

    I think she does an excellent job of portraying life in the 50's and 60's and depicting the life of Henry as well as the girls at the college who took part in Domestic Economics. The social attitudes and beliefs of the time period are keenly observed and the changes that take place as the women's movement alters all of this are spot-on. She touches on many subjects while simply following Henry's life and the lives of those around him.

    It's an interesting story with earnest characters and a fascinating topic. Definitely recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    TOTALLY ORIGINAL AMD TOTALLY ENGROSSING!

    An exploration of attachment and the lack thereof. The kernel of the idea for this book were real "practice babies" in college home economic classes--this is the story of Henry House, his "practice" mothers, his "real" nother and the women who raised him. How he learns to bond--or not--is beautifully detailed through the decades as Henry ages into an adult. An engrossing beautiful read you will not soon forget.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Passed the time away....

    Interesting topic, in depth characters that were all relatable in the time period the events took place - overall an easy read though I doubt I would have bought this book had it not been on sale.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    Page turner

    This book really kept my attention. A very interesting topic. I would love to read a real study done on 'practice babies'... Where are they now?

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  • Posted November 5, 2010

    Entertaining AND Interesting!

    Very readable and well written. Both the fictional story line and the factual details about "practice" houses, the Fifties, and early Sixties, made it a book that I could not put down, but I also did not want it to end! Not your ordinary love story/coming of age novel!

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  • Posted September 18, 2010

    compelling

    As a mother, this book tugged at my heart. An interesting perspective on wanting to keep those we love close to us and the dangerous consequences of holding on too tight.

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  • Posted August 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    if you can make it to the end, you won't be disappointed

    I had a hard time liking Henry for about 85% of this book because he seemed like he was so self-absorbed and refusing to take responsibility for himself--such a drama-mama. His reaction to his adoptive mother Martha as well as birth mother Betty is understandable but extreme. But then again, his reactions to the only person who ever accepted him as is, Mary Jane, was also quite extreme at times. It was MJ who really kept me going throughout this book. Because if she could accept him for what he is--a baby-cum-man who was shaped by too many mothers and none simultaneously as they were college girls/practice mothers who could eventually hand him off--then shouldn't I? I'm glad that I did stick with it because he eventually does get to the place that I hoped for him--and accepts what has happened to him enough to move forward as an adult who cares for others.

    Grunwald's writing is a bit stiff in some places but captures the times well--from the stodgy 1950s to the free-wheeling 1960s. She captures the essence of Henry without apologies and lays him bare in a way that is both compelling and disquieting. She also brings to attention the idea of practice babies in Home Economics programs back then. (I certainly had no clue that this was done, although am not surprised.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book!

    I finished this book last night and was so sad that I was done...I'm going to miss these characters.
    I absolutely loved this incredibly heartwarming novel!

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  • Posted June 27, 2010

    An Irresistible Novel

    Lisa Grunwald wrote an original story based on a factual Home Economics class at Cornell University and other colleges in our country. Infants were supplied by local orphanages to "practice houses" for a year or so to teach college girls the correct way to care for a baby and a home. The philosophy during the 1940's and 1950's was to supply the baby with affection but the babies' needs were not met on demand, but rather on a defined schedule. It was definitely an anti-Dr. Spock viewpoint; the baby was not picked up when crying and fed when hungry. There was a specific agenda for the care and upbringing of a child. It was not without affection but the affection was doled out on a timetable also.

    Martha Gaines, the director of the "practice house" at Wilton College, was a childless woman who taught the classes without wavering from the plan. All babies entering the house had names beginning with an "H." Martha treated all the babies and students the same, with a rather inflexible protocol. She was hardly moved until she fell in love with Henry House, a baby received at a few months old. Henry, even as an infant, did not respond to Martha's love and the novel tells us how Henry evolved from an infant to a young man. Martha spent the rest of her life vying for Henry's love, competing with his birth mother and the outside world. She was a tragic character who remained unloved. Henry, on the other hand, was alluring to countless women but his own abandonment seemed to inhibit his relationships. Henry became mute as a child and was sent to a special school, which was all part of his need to leave Martha. Mary Jane, a beautiful girl from his pre-school class, is a positive in his life, despite the fact that he marred her for life. Henry even hooks up with another practice baby (Hazel aka Peace) and she, too, suffers from an inability to want a mature relationship.

    The premise of the book is fascinating and Grunwald creates a captivating Henry House. Despite his anger and quest for family, he is a talented artist. He never finishes high school but lands a job at Walt Disney. The descriptions of Disney's staffing and organization is enthralling. Because this novel is based on a real college class and I can remember "let the baby cry" ideal of caring for a newborn was the standard, this child-rearing concept does not seem so long ago.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I didn't find Henry House irresistible.

    I didn't care about any of the characters.
    Henry was a self-centered jerk. I didn't understand his problem with Martha. (grow up) The book was not thrilling, romantic or touching.
    Easily forgettable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

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    Posted June 22, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

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    Posted February 9, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

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