The Carriage House: A Novel

Overview

For more than thirty years, William Adair’s faith in life was based on two indisputable principles: the exceptional good looks and athletic talents of his three daughters and the historical status of his family in their Philadelphia suburb. After suffering a stroke, William wakes up in his hospital bed to realize that his world has collapsed: his children are less extraordinary than he had remembered and his family’s notable history has been forgotten.

William’s daughters—all ...

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The Carriage House: A Novel

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Overview

For more than thirty years, William Adair’s faith in life was based on two indisputable principles: the exceptional good looks and athletic talents of his three daughters and the historical status of his family in their Philadelphia suburb. After suffering a stroke, William wakes up in his hospital bed to realize that his world has collapsed: his children are less extraordinary than he had remembered and his family’s notable history has been forgotten.

William’s daughters—all tennis champions in their youth—are in decline. Having lost their father’s pride, the three sisters struggle to define themselves. Their mother, whose memory has started to fade, is unable to help them recall the talented girls they used to be.

For three generations, a carriage house has stood on the Adair property. Built by William’s grandfather, it was William’s childhood refuge and a sign of the family’s prominence. Now held captive by a neighbor due to a zoning error, the house has decayed beyond recognition and may even be condemned.

Rallying to save their father, Diana, Elizabeth, and Isabelle take on the battle for the carriage house that once stood as a symbol of their place in the world. Overcoming misunderstandings and betrayals both deep in the past and painfully new, each of the Adairs ultimately finds a place of forgiveness. The Carriage House is a moving, beautifully wrought debut novel about the complex bonds of siblings, about rebuilding lost lives, and about the saving grace of love.

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Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal - Sam Sacks
“[A] marvelously mature debut…Hall displays a Whartonian malice…[and] seamlessly transitions among the many individual points of view…The novel’s technical proficiency and its gratifyingly nuanced ending make it easy to recommend."
Kevin Powers
"Every sentence in The Carriage House is full of clarity, attention, and grace. Louisa Hall is a writer to be admired.”
The New York Times Book Review
"Graceful prose... The themes of memory and nostalgia threading through the novel are especially resonant."
Philipp Meyer
"Louisa Hall writes about the wars waged between neighbors and family members with extraordinary sympathy and a keen sense of humor. Part Jane Austen, part John Cheever, this tale of upheaval in a suburban Philadelphia household marks the debut of a stunning new writer."
Megan Mayhew Bergman
The Carriage House is gorgeously detailed and rife with betrayal, heartbreak, nostalgia, lost love, and possibilities for redemption. You will ache for the Adair family, cringe at their mistakes, and plead with them to make peace with each other before it’s too late. In her smart and insightful debut, Louisa Hall examines the ways in which we fail and forgive others—and ourselves.”
Vogue.com - Rebecca Bengal
“[The Carriage House is] a twisted family saga lodged in John Cheever and Wes Anderson.”
the Oprah magazine O
“Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this debut novel follows three daughters who work together to restore their father’s health and save their Main Line, Philadelphia home and all it represents.”
Austin American-Statesman - Charles Ealy
“Louisa Hall deftly explores the notions of romantic and familial regret in her debut novel…The Carriage House is full of compelling personal portraits—characters who’ll stay with you long after you put the book down.”
Austin Chronicle - Kimberley Jones
“Hall’s decision to shift the perspective to include multiple voices deepends the reader’s empathy for characters who were more minor (and noxious) in Persuasion.”
From the Publisher
“Ambitious…Intricate…A splendid, carefully-plotted, open-hearted novel.”

“[A] marvelously mature debut…Hall displays a Whartonian malice…[and] seamlessly transitions among the many individual points of view…The novel’s technical proficiency and its gratifyingly nuanced ending make it easy to recommend."

“[The Carriage House is] a twisted family saga lodged in John Cheever and Wes Anderson.”

“Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this debut novel follows three daughters who work together to restore their father’s health and save their Main Line, Philadelphia home and all it represents.”

“Louisa Hall deftly explores the notions of romantic and familial regret in her debut novel…The Carriage House is full of compelling personal portraits—characters who’ll stay with you long after you put the book down.”

“Hall provides keen insight…A thoughtful, character-driven novel.”

“Hall’s decision to shift the perspective to include multiple voices deepends the reader’s empathy for characters who were more minor (and noxious) in Persuasion.”

"Louisa Hall writes about the wars waged between neighbors and family members with extraordinary sympathy and a keen sense of humor. Part Jane Austen, part John Cheever, this tale of upheaval in a suburban Philadelphia household marks the debut of a stunning new writer."

"Every sentence in The Carriage House is full of clarity, attention, and grace. Louisa Hall is a writer to be admired.”

The Carriage House is gorgeously detailed and rife with betrayal, heartbreak, nostalgia, lost love, and possibilities for redemption. You will ache for the Adair family, cringe at their mistakes, and plead with them to make peace with each other before it’s too late. In her smart and insightful debut, Louisa Hall examines the ways in which we fail and forgive others—and ourselves.”

The Boston Globe - James Zug
“Ambitious…Intricate…A splendid, carefully-plotted, open-hearted novel.”
Library Journal
William Adair grew up on Little Lane, proud of his club tennis championships, his pretty daughters, and a historic carriage house built by his grandfather. After suffering a stroke, he realizes that all is not as he had envisioned for himself and his family. His eldest daughter, Diana, was a promising tennis star when an injury sidelined her career. Now she's struggling to forge an identity beyond "athlete." Elizabeth, who moved to Los Angeles to become an actress, is now a divorced mother returned home to lick her wounds. The youngest, Izzy, is equally lost— having spent most of her life with only a shadow for a mother, a woman who still lives at home despite her early-onset dementia. With the carriage house destined for the wrecking ball, the various Adair women respond, slowly regaining their senses of self. This is a melancholy portrait of a family in quiet crisis. Hall provides keen insight and just enough hope to end on a positive note. VERDICT Hall's debut is a thoughtful, character-driven novel that may appeal to readers who enjoy Lorrie Moore. [See Prepub Alert, 9/27/12.]—Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA
Kirkus Reviews
The first novel from Philadephia-born author Hall. William Adair is the central hub around which a cast of insightfully depicted female characters revolve: Margaux, his wife, waltzing into a world of forgetfulness with early onset dementia; Louise, an aspiring writer from Australia hired on as Margaux's caretaker; Adelia, William's childhood friend and woulda-shoulda-coulda-been sweetheart, who comes to live with the family to help care for William after he suffers a stroke; and William's three daughters. Trying to rescue the historic carriage house built by William's grandfather, but now owned by a neighbor due to a zoning error and scheduled for demolition, is the cause that unites the women of William's life. Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, once an actress on the way to success in Los Angeles, is back home with her two daughters after a heartbreaking divorce. Diana, once a tennis champion and president of her school, has returned home instead of defending her architecture thesis at university. Isabelle, the youngest and still a teenager, rebels against everything and everyone. The carriage house is not only the common cause that brings the women together, it is also the symbol of lost and rediscovered loves, dreams and aspirations as it first burns to the ground and then is rebuilt according to Diana's design and under her supervision. An emotional journey that's ultimately filled with joy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451688641
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Pages: 304

Meet the Author

Louisa Hall

Louisa Hall grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Haverford. After graduating from Harvard, she played squash professionally and was ranked #2 in the country. She teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Her poems have been published in journals, such as The New Republic, The Southwest Review, and Ellipsis. The Carriage House is her first novel. She lives in Austin.

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