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5.0 7
by Art Corriveau

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Set in a small Vermont town in the early decades of the twentieth century, Housewrights tells the story of Lily Willard, the town librarian, and her relationship with Oren and Ian Pritchard, housewrights who roam New England building houses for others though they themselves are homeless. Lily first meets the twins when they are children, and the boys arrive


Set in a small Vermont town in the early decades of the twentieth century, Housewrights tells the story of Lily Willard, the town librarian, and her relationship with Oren and Ian Pritchard, housewrights who roam New England building houses for others though they themselves are homeless. Lily first meets the twins when they are children, and the boys arrive with their father to build Lily's family a new farmhouse. Ten years later, Oren returns for Lily. He asks her to marry him. She agrees, if he will settle down-for the first time in his life. Always lurking, though, is the question of Ian, off fighting the Great War. But when he returns, shell-shocked and wounded, Lily welcomes him into their home. Eyebrows are raised only silently at this unusual household, until one evening at the Grange Hall dance the three take a heady, impetuous waltz together-with practically the entire town watching.

Rich in detail and emotion, this unforgettable novel marks the debut of a singular storyteller who writes with extraordinary beauty, depth, and clarity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Corriveau concocts an unusual but convincing romantic triangle in his excellent first novel, which takes place in a Vermont village just after the turn of the 20th century. Lily Willard is the precocious, intelligent town librarian who meets her future husband, Oren Pritchard, as a young girl when nine-year-old Oren and his twin, Ian, visit Cabot Lodge while their father builds the Willards' house. The Pritchards quickly move on to the next job, but the handsome, determined Oren returns a decade later to claim Lily for his bride. Lily's vague misgivings about the match are compounded by Ian's return from WWI with a severe case of shell shock, and after Lily helps Ian recover and join her husband in his house-building business, she finds herself torn by her longings for her husband's twin. When those longings are expressed during a town dance, the trio find themselves shunned and isolated. The solution to their dilemma is an engineered courtship between Ian and Lucy's divorced best friend, Hallie, but when marriage follows, the controlling, domineering Hallie drives a wedge between the two brothers. The climax comes when Lily rescues the pregnant Hallie as she begins to miscarry, but Lily is punished for her good deed when Hallie accuses her of killing the stillborn baby. Corriveau is a smooth, evocative writer who creates engaging if somewhat odd characters, although some of the courtship sequences and sexual conflicts seem a bit modern for the setting and the era. He resists the temptation to go over the top with the erotic possibilities involving Lily and the twins, focusing on the intriguing story line to create an accomplished, thought-provoking debut. New England author tour. (July) Forecast: Booksellers might recommend Corriveau to fans of Howard Norman, whose work is similar in setting and subject matter; the paperback price will encourage readers to take a chance on this debut novel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Right from the first page, this brief debut novel by an established short story writer draws the reader into a highly dramatic story about a librarian named Lily Willard in a small Vermont town during the years 1907-28. As a young girl, Lily befriended Oren and Ian Pritchard, the twin sons of a traveling housewright. Ten years later, Oren returns and marries Lily. Ian, who is recovering from shell shock he suffered in World War I, is brought home to live with Oren and Lily. Ian recovers, but the tight bond among Lily and the brothers "they were generally happier than anyone else she knew" arouses judgment and gossip in the small town. Residents become more accepting after Ian marries Hallie, whose former husband disappeared after he was accused of larceny. But Hallie's controlling nature separates the brothers, and resentments grow after the birth of Lily's daughter, Faith, the stillborn death of Hallie's child, and an accident that leaves Oren in a coma. The heartfelt ending to this compelling novel presents a convincing finale to one of the better debut novels of this year. Highly recommended for all libraries. David A. Beron , Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A creaky first novel about a young woman strong enough to ignore convention in a 1920s town and to live and marry as she pleases. Lily Willard is gratifyingly indifferent to the usual expectations of young women-she can't cook or sew-but she's not well served by Corrieveau's storyline. A mixture of the mundane (building houses and dusting library shelves) and the mysterious (from time to time Lilly has visions or sees omens), it begins in May 1907. Lily is eight and lives on the family farm in Vermont, and she's had two signs before breakfast that she can't ignore: a usually fecund barn cat has produced only two kittens, and two swarms of insects are competing for space in a tree. Soon afterward she sees a strange wagon near her house and meets Abel Pritchard, the housewright (he builds houses from designs in books) who is there to put up the family's new home. With him are his identical twin boys, Oren and Ian, the same age as Lily. Despite their impressive knowledge of carpentry, the twins, who will years later change Lily's life, are more concepts than credible figures. As Lily teaches them to read, as well as to ride horses, the three become a close-knit trio. But when the house is finished, the boys leave and Lily forgets them-until one day in 1917. While Lily is working as a librarian, Oren Pritchard comes back to claim her as his bride. After they marry, Ian, shell-shocked while fighting in France, moves in with them. The three get along just fine until one evening when they drink too much at a local dance and start waltzing together-which causes a scandal. Lily's solution-the marriage of Ian to local divorcee Hallie-causes only more trouble and tragedy, destroying the brothers'closeness. But Lily is strong and knows how to fight for what matters, whatever it might cost. Vivid period details, but an unconvincing plot and cardboard people.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
215 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Art Corrveau has an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan and has held fellowships at Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies. His stories have appeared in Story and American Short Fiction.

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Housewrights 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BN recommended this book to me and it was a wonderful read. It's not very long, but it keeps your attention. Lily is a woman before her time. You can see the personalities of the characters come to life in the first chapter. I wish it didn't end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent writing. Engaging story. Many complex characters! Highly recommended!! Strong male and female characters. Loved it from beginning to end. Another great historical fiction book is The Partisan by Wiliam Jarvis. Both books deserve A++++
pjpick More than 1 year ago
Although I whipped through this quickly I'm a little ambivalent about it. I was interested fairly early on and then it just sort of lost me. Maybe because I never really understood the full relationship between Lily, Oren, and Ian. And perhaps that's what the writer wanted--for us to come to our own conclusions but I needed just a little bit more clarification. I also felt the author's antagonist character, Hallie, was a little too one dimensional--a charicature, if you will.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read this novel yet, you're missing a big treat. Everyone I've recommended it to has loved it -- it's filled with love and yearning, petty small town jealousy and characters you will never forget.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. It was so mesmerizing and unusual, yet thoroughly believable. I found myself transported into the small town world of Lily Willard and fell in love with Oren and Ian Pritchard right along with her. I didn't want it to end. Art Corriveau is an enchanting and talented writer, and I can't wait for his next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Picked it up at the bookstore one day and simply couldn't put it down. The writing is gorgeous and the story so unusual and compelling. It really gets you thinking about the unconventional relationships of your life. Anyway, Art Corriveau is a breath of fresh air and I'm buying Housewrights for several of my friends for Christmas. I recommend it highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful book. Corriveau paints a picture of three old souls, all born under a lucky star and all linked together by an invisible thread, whose bonds are seemingly unbreakable until the other people's trivial and petty human jealousies tear the three apart. Yet the supernatural forces that join them can only set the world right again. And Lily is a character for the ages whom all women will know and admire.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book! Definitely worth reading! Very believable.