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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
Poet Sarah Messer has given an exquisite twist to the memoir genre with her nonfiction debut, Red House. Billed as "a mostly accurate account of New England's oldest continually lived-in house," Messer blends elements of regional history, architecture, genealogical research, and personal memoir to re-create a charming story of the historic Massachusetts home in which she was raised.
The Red House was built in 1647 by planter, shipbuilder, and mill worker Walter Hatch and continued to belong to the Hatches until 1965, when Messer's parents became only the second family to own it. Over the past four decades the Red House has become a living, breathing being, and a huge part of the author's family.
Messer alternates chapters of the book that trace the joys and miseries of the generations of Hatches who inhabited the house for three centuries with beautifully written recollections of her own family's life there. Her research and reflection yield many moving realizations about the nature and importance of a family identity and roots. But in the end, Messer concludes that though her family are the rightful owners of the Red House, it is perhaps more accurate to think of them as adoptive caretakers of a dwelling that will always contain the spirit of its ancestral occupants. (Fall 2004 Selection)