In This Dark House : A Memoir

In This Dark House : A Memoir

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by Louise Kehoe, Susan Ralston
     
 

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In 1939 the influential architect Berthold Lubetkin abruptly left his thriving career in London and dropped out of sight, moving with his wife to a desolate farm in rural Gloucestershire. Life in the house the Lubetkins named “World’s End” was far from idyllic for their three children. Louise Kehoe and her siblings lived in an atmosphere of

Overview

In 1939 the influential architect Berthold Lubetkin abruptly left his thriving career in London and dropped out of sight, moving with his wife to a desolate farm in rural Gloucestershire. Life in the house the Lubetkins named “World’s End” was far from idyllic for their three children. Louise Kehoe and her siblings lived in an atmosphere of oppressive isolation, while their tyrannical father—at times charming and witty but usually a terrorist in a self-styled Stalinist hell—badgered and belittled them during his fits of self-loathing. Even his true identity remained an enigma. That secret was never divulged during her father’s lifetime, but Louise’s quest to unearth its tragic origins—her relentless piecing together of the clues she found after his death—is a remarkable story, written with extraordinary grace, style, and imagination, of an identity and a heritage lost and found.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
*WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD*

“A marvelously lucid account of a savage childhood, and of the family conspiracy that engendered it.”
—Anita Brookner

“Well constructed and beautifully written, [with] an emotional honesty which generates its own kind of lasting truth.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“An astonishing, impossible-to-put-down page-turner of a book! Kehoe’s tale will elicit glimmers of recognition in anyone who has wondered how to go about freeing oneself from the world which begins at home.”
—Daphne Merkin, author of Dreaming of Hitler
 
“At once a memoir and a reminder of how the global and the intensely personal inextricable intertwine. An awesome an exhilarating tale.”
—Carolyn See, author of The Handyman
 
“Eloquent . . . As in the best fiction, the story ultimately makes a scramble of our easy moralizing. This memoir . . . transcends its own form, becoming a testament to the ways in which historical ills sicken the individual soul.”
Newsday

Jewish Book World
In 1939, accomplished avant-garde architect, Russian born Lubetkin, age 40, abruptly left his successful practice in London and moved his wife and three small children to a desolute farm in rural England. It was another way to bury his past and hide the reason for his eccentric behavior which covered the gamut from charm to physical abuse. This memoir, by the youngest daughter, is one of learning about one's parents, the effect of the Holocaust on their lives as well as a coming-of-age story, part psychological drama and part mystery.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1940, Kehoe's father, Berthold Lubetkin, a renowned Russian-born architect, abruptly abandoned his London career and retreated with his wife and three children to a remote farm in southwestern England called World's End. In this riveting memoir, Kehoe, a journalist in Massachusetts, describes the nightmare world she, her older sister and her younger brother inhabited as children. Cut off from the rest of the world, they were at the mercy of an abusive and tyrannical father who forbade them to come into contact with other children and mercilessly undermined any abilities they possessed or opinions they expressed. Although Kehoe's mother loved her children, she adored her husband and appeased him at their expense. A militant communist and atheist, Lubetkin forced his views on his family, which further alienated Kehoe from her schoolmates. After his death she discovered that her father had concealed his Jewish ancestry from everyone but his wife (who was a Christian) and was haunted by the deaths of his parents during the Holocaust. Kehoe is now a practicing Jew. An extraordinary, well-told story of a brutal childhood. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Eloquently written and a pleasure to read, this profile of a dysfunctional family offers more than the typical sturm und drang. Instead of simply plumbing her scarred psyche, the author seeks to understand why her sophisticated architect-turned-farmer father wielded tyrannical control over his family. Kehoe opens by describing her childhood in idyllic rural England, where her world-class architect father abruptly had relocated his family at the outbreak of World War II. The unfolding narrative reads like a mystery, with appropriately surprising results. The father's concealment of his Jewish ancestry and abandonment of his own parents to be murdered by the Nazis were secrets not discovered until after his death, secrets that have transformed Kehoe's life. Recommended for larger popular biography collections.-A. Arro Smith, San Marcos P.L., Tex.
What do you make of a man who abandons a promising career in London to hole up in a remote country home he calls World's End? That's the course of action Kehoe's mysterious, irascible,diabolically charming, and tyrannical father, the celebrated architect Berthold Lubetkin, chose in 1939. And that's not all. He also, with the anguished complicity of his bright, competent, yet self-sacrificing wife, concealed the painful truth about his past, even lying to his own children. The burden of this mad secrecy weighed heavily on Lubetkin who took out all his guilt, sorrow, and rage on his family, virtually holding them hostage to his obsessions. It was only after his death that Kehoe, who suffered mightily not only from her father's extreme yet seductive cruelty, but also from her mother's blind loyalty to her husband, discovered the tragic truth about her heritage. Kehoe's heartbreaking story is astonishing enough on its own, but her riveting, luminous prose style transforms it into a triumphantly beautiful and moving work of art. We won't soon forget Kehoe's courage or her eloquence. -Donna Seaman
Publisher"s Weekly
In 1940, Kehoe's father, Berthold Lubetkin, a renowned Russian-born architect, abruptly abandoned his London career and retreated with his wife and three children to a remote farm in southwestern England called World's End. In this riveting memoir, Kehoe, a journalist in Massachusetts, describes the nightmare world she, her older sister and her younger brother inhabited as children. Cut off from the rest of the world, they were at the mercy of an abusive and tyrannical father who forbade them to come into contact with other children and mercilessly undermined any abilities they possessed or opinions they expressed. Although Kehoe's mother loved her children, she adored her husband and appeased him at their expense. A militant communist and atheist, Lubetkin forced his views on his family, which further alienated Kehoe from her schoolmates. After his death she discovered that her father had concealed his Jewish ancestry from everyone but his wife (who was a Christian) and was haunted by the deaths of his parents during the Holocaust. Kehoe is now a practicing Jew. An extraordinary, well-told story of a brutal childhood. (Oct.) -Publisher's Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805210170
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
853,208
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

LOUISE KEHOE is a writer and garden designer who lives in New Hampshire. In This Dark House won the National Jewish Book Award in 1995 and, in the United Kingdom, the Jewish Quarterly–Wingate Prize in 1997.

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In This Dark House 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sucked
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