Building a Home with My Husband: A Journey Through the Renovation of Love

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Rachel Simon's historic home on a charming tree-lined street was hardly ideal. It was too small, too dark, and there was a gaping hole in the dining room ceiling. So when the house is burglarized, Rachel and her husband, Hal, agree it's time to sell. But in a difficult housing market, and with Hal being an architect, they soon realize: Why leave when they can renovate?

Rachel prepares herself for the disagreements and disasters that can accompany a major home renovation. But ...

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Overview

Rachel Simon's historic home on a charming tree-lined street was hardly ideal. It was too small, too dark, and there was a gaping hole in the dining room ceiling. So when the house is burglarized, Rachel and her husband, Hal, agree it's time to sell. But in a difficult housing market, and with Hal being an architect, they soon realize: Why leave when they can renovate?

Rachel prepares herself for the disagreements and disasters that can accompany a major home renovation. But what she isn't prepared for is the emotional journey that will blow open the seal around everything she thinks she knows about herself, about family, and about the misunderstandings and resilience of love. From Hal's first design sketch to the last stroke of paint, memories of a difficult childhood, friendships left behind, challenges with siblings, and an improbable path to marriage come bursting out. Once the dust settles, Rachel is astonished by the many gems revealed along the way—and comes to discover profound insights about the construction, demolition, and renovation of personal connections.

Featuring beloved characters from Riding the Bus with My Sister and written with Simon's signature breathtaking prose, Building a Home with My Husband is a wise and poignant reflection on love's endless possibilities and the extraordinary endurance of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her second memoir (after Riding the Bus with My Sister), Simon writes about her relationship with her husband, Hal. The two married after 19 years together (including a breakup and reunion) and moved into Hal's historic row house in Wilmington, Del. When the house is burglarized, the couple consider moving, but decide to renovate instead, both to save money and give Hal, an architect, the opportunity to design their abode. The decision, Simon writes, "will blow open the tight seal around everything I think I know about myself, about family, about the misunderstandings and resilience of love." It makes for an intriguing narrative, punctuated by musings on everything from quitting to the definition of design to her life as a writer and public speaker. In this inspirational book, readers who have completed or are contemplating remodeling will empathize with Simon's frustration-induced fits of pique or the couple's rush of gratitude for a lovely home. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Simon poignantly documents the next phase of her life (Riding the Bus with My Sister, 2002, etc.), in which the home becomes a metaphor for the soul. After their row house in Wilmington, Del., was burglarized, Simon and her husband, an architect, resurrected an old argument about their living situation-he loved their urban neighborhood; she wanted more room. Since a new house was beyond their financial reach, they decided to stay and renovate. Thus begins a spiritual pilgrimage that Simon dubs the "Search for Life Purpose 2.0." From the beginning, though, she makes it clear that she will not be wielding tools or even selecting paint. In an early scene at a hardware store, her husband was shocked by her indifference to plumbing displays. "Because Hal thinks in terms of things you can see or hear," she writes, "he was sure I was exaggerating, despite the fact that my conversation seldom strayed from emotions and memory and relationships and the meaning of life." As she does what she can-pack and unpack, mostly-she reviews her life: childhood wracked by the disappearance of her father, then her mother; her rocky relationships, culminating in marriage to Hal, "after nineteen years of one of the most ridiculous courtships in the history of love"; reconciliations with her mother, her father and her siblings. Because the requirements of the renovations made her more fully involved in the project that she initially planned, she began to see the beauty in the design of her life: "Just keep paying attention. Look around. See all that you don't let yourself see."An unsentimental, poetic appraisal of life's big questions. Agent: Anne Edelstein/Anne Edelstein Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"An unsentimental, poetic appraisal of life's big questions." —-Kirkus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525951209
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/11/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Simon

Rachel Simon is the author of five books, including the bestselling memoir Riding the Bus with My Sister.

Laural Merlington has recorded well over one hundred audiobooks, including works by Margaret Atwood and Alice Hoffman, and is the recipient of several AudioFile Earphones Awards. An Audie Award nominee, she has also directed over one hundred audiobooks.

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Remodeling can be fun!

    A continuation of Simon's true story. After a year of riding a bus with her sister, Rachel marries Hal, an architect. After four years of living in his old house, they decide to renovate. They rent another house and go through months of planning and building. As time goes by, Rachel plans and builds her own thoughts while Hal plans and helps build the house. Good writing.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great read! A fascinating, inspiring love story.Perfect for book clubs. I laughed. I cried. I loved it!

    I was lucky enough to see an advanced copy of Rachel Simon's new book, "Building a Home with my Husband." I was a fan of her last book, "Riding the Bus With My Sister", and if you loved that book like I did, you'll love this one too. Once again, it's about the challenges of love, but instead of being about Rachel and her sister, it's about Rachel and her husband. More specifically, it is a beautifully written story of two people who marry after living together, breaking up, leading separate lives for six years, and then re-discovering each other and getting married. It's a compelling love story woven together with the renovation of their home into a fascinating book. .The reconstruction of their house is like the tearing down of old walls in their relationship and rebuilding stronger ones to last a lifetime.

    First they learn to trust each other. Then the exciting plans for the house and their marriage begin to come to life and take shape and the house turns into a symbol of the power of love as a result of working together to make the house beautiful and useful and alive. There is no better metaphor for building a good relationship than re-building a house that gets better every day, even after setbacks and problems.

    The book also covers challenges that Rachel confronted in other relationships in her life -- with her mother, her father, her siblings, including Beth, about whom she wrote in "Riding the Bus with my Sister." (I was pleased to get this update of Rachel's relationship with Beth.) Rachel even covers how to deal with friendships that have ended. Complex, illuminating and rewarding, the book deals honestly and movingly with the way that all the relationships in our lives change and evolve through the years.
    While reading this book I kept reflecting on my own marriage. And I found "Building a Home with My Husband" comforting and full of insight that really helped.

    Whether or not you have a spouse, or you read Rachel's last book, read this message of hope. It's great for anyone who has any close relationship, especially one that has been in need of renewal. It will move and captivate you as you watch two people work things out and build a strong relationship. I can't recommend it highly enough.





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