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The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel

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Overview

A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With ...

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The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel

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Overview

A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Each lost woman may stay for 99 nights. That's just enough time to heal a broken heart, face a demon or redirect one's entire life. A despairing victim of academic shenanigans, Alba Ashby finds herself rather inexplicably in front of a gorgeous house. Alba is gifted with the ability to see the colors of emotions, bubbles of laughter and sparks of love. The proprietress, Peggy Abbot, invites her into a most magical place. For nearly 200 years, the house has stood invisible to most people, dropping its enchanted veil only for women who have lost hope. It offers sanctuary, advice (in the form of cryptic messages dropped from above), gifts (everything from birthday cakes to pianos to never-ending wardrobes) and advice from famous previous visitors--including Dorothy Parker, Daphne du Maurier and Caroline Herschel--each of who speaks from her photograph on the wall. This summer, the house's residents include Greer, a glamorous but failed actress reeling from her fiance's infidelity; Carmen, a sultry Portuguese singer who has buried something dangerous under the morning glories; Alba, who must face not only her ruined career, but also her horrible family when she receives word that her beloved, but mad, mother has died. At the reading of the will, Alba is given a box of love letters written between her mother and Alba's real father. Can she find him? Will Stella, the ghost in the kitchen, help her? And why does the house, with its magical bookshelves, force her to get novels from Zoë, the pixielike librarian? Peggy herself is troubled this summer. The house has informed her that today is her last birthday. Has she squandered her life helping other women when she ought to have married Harry? Beguiling and bright, van Praag's (Happier Than She's Ever Been, 2011, etc.) third novel delights with deft writing and charming characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670784639
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
  • Publication date: 4/4/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 958,610
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Menna van Praag is a freelance writer, journalist, and Oxford graduate. She is the author of Men, Money and Chocolate. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.
 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 6, 2013

    This is a "can't put it down" "can't wait to pick

    This is a "can't put it down" "can't wait to pick it up" book. It's delightful. I fell in love with the characters and each of their personal journeys of self discovery. The plot has such wonderful twists and turns - I love being surprised when I read a book. Author Menna van Praag's writing is melodic. If a brilliant song could be a book - this book would be that song. As an avid reader, feeling fully satisfied after reading a book is a rare experience. This book is like the perfect meal that ends with that perfect bite. Get this book! It's magically delicious!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were beautifully cons

    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were beautifully constructed and the story was actually a bit surprising, I honestly didn't want it to end.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2013

    What a beautiful book! I could not put it down - The characters

    What a beautiful book! I could not put it down - The characters are so vivid, three-dimensional and compelling that the story drew me in and did not let me go. A book with believable, three-dimensional characters, whimsy, skillful story-telling and a strong message of hope, love and perseverance. I fell in love with everybody who showed up in this book, they became my friends and I was rooting for them. A real treat!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2013

    What an adventure! The last time I got sucked into a book like t

    What an adventure!
    The last time I got sucked into a book like this was when the first Harry Potter came out! I loved the characters from the first page and I was happy that I am a slow reader, so that I would be able to enjoy the ride for a while. Little did I know I would end up using every spare moment to come back to THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET. What I love is that the story is not about the magical things that happen in the house, even though they would be worth the read on their own, but it is about the unraveling of the lives of people, who have no idea who they really are, kinda like most people I know... My favorite part of the story is the friendship and the conversations between Alba (the main character) and Stella the ghost, who has her own little secrets. I really recommend reading this book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2013

    Completely captivating. As a reader of literally just short of a

    Completely captivating. As a reader of literally just short of a thousand books this is one of my new favorites. Why? Because of the magical Hope Street House. I found myself both wanted to never put it down and to continue reading, and then torn because I did not want to finish the book.  The entire story...a magical place where women can take salvage and evaluate themselves, their lives, their situation, etc... and the pictures throughout the house speaking to them - all of which are famously brilliant and strong women in history.  I adore such mystical stories and the endless imaginations of special authors such as Ms. Praag.  I can only hope and pray that there is a sequel in store for me in the years to come.  I could have read this book and had a smile on my face for months.  This is not a fluff book. Although easy to read and one does not have to concentrate while reading it, it is a story that was equally filled with love, loss, lies, strength, adversity and resiliance, with a scoop of imagination and a rather large slice of chocolate cake. (you'll realize the chocolate cake comment when you read it).  Definitely a great read.  

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    Magical, Whimsical, and totally Enjoyable - I absolutely adored

    Magical, Whimsical, and totally Enjoyable - I absolutely adored this book. I found it totally original, so sweet and whimsical, and magical, too. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be transported away.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    Magic on Hope Street! I was drawn to read this book based on som

    Magic on Hope Street!
    I was drawn to read this book based on some real life people, who make cameos in the book. Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker…just to name a few. When I first opened the book and started to read the first few pages, I didn’t think I would enjoy the book. It seemed a little hokey, and I don’t read paranormal, sci-fi, or fantasy kind of books. Okay, with the exception of Twilight…

    So, I put the book away and read a few other books before going back to it. Then, I allowed myself to slip into the whimsical and magic world, where women go to find themselves and uncover past issues that are preventing the person from moving forward. Once, I let go, I loved it!

    The house is quite magical. Built in 1811, it is managed only by Abbot women, who have a sixth sense. Peggy welcomes Alba to the home that has mysteriously appears out of nowhere. Alba is quite surprised to see that someone is up so late at night and is expecting her, without having known herself where she would end up. You see, the house will only appear to those who are in need of shelter. It is on that particular evening, Peggy announces she is having a birthday the following day. At the ripe age of 82, Peggy has seen many women come through that home. As Alba walks through the home, she sees the faces of many of those: Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier, and Agatha Christie, among others. Alba has a bit of a sixth sense, which comes in the forms of seeing colors that represent different emotions : anger, hope, sorrow, deception, love, etc. As Peggy leads her to the guest room, Alba swears she sees the faces move and acknowledge her, almost as if they are also greeting her.

    Every guest that stays at the home is granted only 99 days to get their life back on track. What the guests don’t realize is that the house will be doing some little magic to help create movement, help the guest face some truths, and ultimately help change the path the person is on. All guests are women, all are lured to the home, and all uncover hidden truths in their own time.

    While there are 2 other women living in the home, Alba is the primary character. Of course, Peggy has her own sort of issues and she has to face some major decisions the house has made on her behalf. Peggy is an 82 year old woman, but don’t let that age fool you! She has lots of sass, has a lover, and is quite confident about what she wants. Question is…can she have it?

    Alba has her own family secrets that she is not even privy to. It is through this time that she is at the hope house, where Alba learns about her family history, comes to terms with her own sexuality, and begins a relationship with her father. In the meantime, the other two guests (Carmen and Greer), also experience some life changes, too.

    There is so much that happens in the little story and lots of incidents happen at the house on Hope Street, too. Pull off your reality hat, kick up your feet, and let yourself go down the rabbit hole to Hope Street. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll enjoy some of the whimsical things that happen, too!-Books in the Burbs

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    **I received an advanced copy of this book through a giveaway**

    **I received an advanced copy of this book through a giveaway**
    I didn't love the book or the characters. The story line was promising and did come together at the end of the book but it didn't have as much substance to it as I would have liked. I know the book was supposed to have the impression of an adult fairy tale but when there are literally cartoon characters engaging in sex acts (implied but not written in detail) and relationships it puts it a little over the top for me. The use of cliches throughout the book was also overwhelming and gives the sense of a simplistic writing style.
    I found the main character to be dull and very anti-social; However, after one twist in the story, everything changed and she seemed to completely turn around (in the last 10-15 pages). The dialogue of one of the secondary characters, and an inhabitant of the house, left something to be desired. Her speech was written in such a way that it was supposed to imply an accent and English as her second language but it didn't come across that way in the writing. Instead, it made her seem as though she was of less than average intelligence and a bit child-like.
    Overall, the story line was there even though I felt it was still in the beginning phases. And I have to give credit for the ability to make a (usually) inanimate object a main character in the story. The house itself was the most in-depth character there was.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

     Imagine when life seems its bleakest, when one feels all is los

     Imagine when life seems its bleakest, when one feels all is lost and senses no worthwhile future.  There is a house awaiting such a moment for many women over many years of the last century and this is the story of four women in particular with mention of many others who can communicate the essence of what they found in this house during their brief stay here.  Peggy Abbott is the head of this house, holding a commission she accepted long ago and for which she has sacrificed the love of her life. Now enters Alba Ashley whose career as a history scholar has been demolished through the treachery of another. She is walking with nowhere to go when she is drawn to this mysterious “home” in the truest sense of the word!




    So begins the story of Alba’s slow but special journey to healing along with other women, Carmen and Greer.  Carmen holds a secret buried outside the house that is ripping her apart and Greer is devastated from the betrayal of a former fiancé.  The home where they may only stay for 99 days is magical; it gives each what is needed for the healing process, initially materials things each woman loves and then brief messages and conversations with the ghosts of former residents.  These include Daphne du Maurier, Dorothy Parker, Stella (who is connected with one of the residents in a shocking way) and many more – all speaking from their picture frames throughout every section of wall in the house.  Yes, even the walls, floors, pipes and more speak and move according to the emotions being felt deeply as time passes.  While there is much pain in the healing process, this is a house of hope, of joy and it is delightful to share this progress with all.




    Alba will discover the secret about her family and through that connect to her true calling; and in that search she will finally know love.  Carmen and Greer will assist as well as be helped by Alba, and their beautiful gifts will emerge in a wondrous way.  A reunion will occur, a confession will be made, and most precious of all, these women will learn to stop denying their true identity, stop making excuses, stop rejecting the hope that lies so close and takes one momentous leap to access.




    Yes, this is a contrived fantasy but a beautiful one that is such a joy to read.  The writing is exquisite, full of sensual detail and gripping changes of plot in just the right places.  The reader is privy to the deepest thoughts of these women which stir the readers’ hearts in personal ways; in a sense this may be the reader’s home as well.
    Delightful Ms. Van Praag – exquisite, beautiful, sensitive and thrilling fiction!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    Interesting read for literary lovers.

    I thoroughly enjoyed House at the End of Hope Street which was an easy read with a likeable narrator. The author sprinkles text with mentionings of famous authors and their works. Readers never know whom they'll run into as former residents of the House speak from their pictures on the walls.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2013

    I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley from Pengu

    I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley from Penguin Group / Viking. When I read on Sarah Addison Allen’s Facebook page that Menna van Praag’s novel has been compared to her own books, I knew I had to check it out!

    Peggy Abbot is the landlady of the magical house on Hope Street, and she inherited the responsibility for living in it and helping its tenants from her Abbot ancestors. Although there have been as many as eleven tenants living in the house at various points in time, right now there are three: Alba, Greer, and Carmen. These three women have been “called” to the house because, at this point in each of their lives, they have run out of hope. Alba feels like a failure for abandoning her degree at Cambridge, and she thinks she is completely alone in the world. Greer is facing a broken engagement and a stagnant career, and Carmen is hiding a dark secret that is causing the midnight glory on the house’s front porch to bloom out of control. Peggy tells each of the women that they, like all the tenants before them, can stay in the house for 99 nights and attempt to sort out their lives.

    I wish I could live in the house that van Praag describes! The house senses what its occupants need, and sometimes it writes them little notes with advice or words of encouragement. It gives Peggy a card and an incredible birthday cake, Alba has a room full of books, and Greer has a wardrobe full of fabulous theatrical costumes. One of the most excellent features of the house is the pictures on all of the walls that document the house’s former residents. Some famous women have stayed in the house over the years, and the pictures can talk, so it is not uncommon for Alba to chat with Daphne du Maurier or hear a snippy remark from Vivien Leigh.

    This book is about four women learning to get out of their own way so that they can find happiness. The great thing about the house is that, while it provides a temporary refuge, the women cannot hide there forever. The house may be magical, and it’s capable of producing hot chocolate and ginger cookies for comfort, but it does not fix the tenants’ problems for them - it gives them the tools they need to discover their own paths.

    Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, but it can be tricky to write well. I thought van Praag did a great job, and her writing style is charming. I enjoyed watching the characters (particularly Peggy) develop. I would definitely read another book by Menna van Praag.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, but this book push

    Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, but this book pushed me out of my comfort zone just a bit. As I read the first chapter or so, I thought it might be too new age/psychic/fantasy/ghost story for me. There were also indications that made me think it was going to be completely predictable. I was thrilled, and pleasantly surprised, to be proven wrong.

    The book's voice is simple in all the good ways, even gentle at times. It was easy to get lost in the enchanted world van Praag has created. I love the stunning way Alba's synesthesia is described; it definitely added to the magic.

    Some aspects I didn't like as much:
    - I felt that an important detail about the character Albert Mackay was revealed far too early. I wanted a little more time to wonder about him.
    - One relationship in the book seemed to progress so quickly, almost out of the blue. This made it hard for me to take the characters' feelings seriously.
    - A few times I couldn't tell what time I was reading: present, past, reliving a memory, or what. I found these shifts to be too subtle.
    However, these were all minor issues for me in comparison to how lovely and sweet I found the story overall. This is an easy, relaxing read. Not in a frivolous way - there are certainly some difficult situations the characters have to deal with - but the tone stayed light and enjoyable throughout.

    At the end of the book is "A Guide to the Women of Hope Street" with a very brief biography of the literary and historical figures in the book, as well as a chart notating the meaning associated with each color Alba sees.

    I've always enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's novels; that recommendation in the synopsis is spot on. Menna van Praag's The House at the End of Hope Street is a delightful story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    "Hope Street" is a Touching Tale Note: I requested th

    "Hope Street" is a Touching Tale

    Note: I requested this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.




    There were a few reasons why I chose to request this book. One was that it had a great cover, which isn’t usually enough for me to click on a book description, but the title was catchy so I gave it a shot (that was reason number 2). The third is that the description sounded pretty interesting and literary fiction’ish, so I was excited when I was approved for the request. I became hesitant, however, when I started reading the book and realized that it is classified as a fantasy/magical novel, which is waaay outside of my comfort zone. But, the first couple chapters were intriguing so I decided to stick with it.




    I am so glad I did! Despite being completely different from anything that I normally read, this book was enchanting. The lyrical writing style is very literary fictionesque and the story line is Harry Potter meets Smart House, the 1999 Disney movie starring Katey Sagal – there is a video below in case you missed this little gem.
    In the book, women facing a crossroads in their life are drawn to the house at the end of Hope Street. The house is not visible to everyone – only those who need it – and the young women have 99 nights to turn their lives around and are guided by the ghosts of patrons past that live in the paintings (like house Number 12 in Harry Potter).




    The primary focus is on Alba Ashby, who at 19 drops out of her PhD program and finds herself at Hope Street. An avid historical fiction fan who can see smells and colors, Alba is an outcast that is guided along by the ghosts of famed literary figures such as Sylvia Plath and Agatha Christie, as well as important women throughout history. With their help, Alba strives to face her fears, understand her past, and work through a blow that strikes down her entire sense of being.




    This touching tale is sure to weave its way into the hearts of fantasy/magical and literary fiction fans alike. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book and am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone to read it. I also like that the male figures in this book don’t conform to the stereotypical knight in shining armor role, but that’s for another post altogether! My only gripe is the reference to April 31…. Anyway, I hope you take a chance on this book because it’s surprisingly fantastic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2013

    What a wonderful fun book to read, The House at the End of Hope

    What a wonderful fun book to read, The House at the End of Hope Street. This is a book where at times you won’t understand
     where the book is going but suddenly you get it. This is a feel good book that is not a feel good book because it’s better than
     that. When the visitors come to The House at the End of Hope St they can only stay for 99 nights. There are ghosts living in all
     the walls of the downstairs rooms, the walls seem to breathe and the pipes rattle in laughter. The ghosts cannot leave the
    room that they are in and each room has several ghosts. The ghosts are the famous women who have died that lived for a
    while at the Hope Street house and were helped by the house and residents. The women come to Hope Street at the lowest
     times of their lives. With the help of the house and residents the women are gently urged to keep going and how to grow as
    a person or in their profession. It is such a unique book and so interesting to read this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Menna Van Praag has written a magical tale in Hope Street, a sto

    Menna Van Praag has written a magical tale in Hope Street, a story full of whimsy, literary ghosts, and secrets. The main characters are multi-dimensional and intriguing, full of quirks and foibles, but also full of strength. The house is a character in its own right, so well-sketched that it lingers in the mind after the book is done. I loved the literary ghosts, true to history and to something deeper -- an abiding and uplifting faith in the power of women to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and losses. This is a rich tale, an entrancing story. Five stars simply aren't enough. A new favorite on my shelves.

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  • Posted July 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The House at the end of Hope Street is an interesting combinatio

    The House at the end of Hope Street is an interesting combination of fantasy, contemporary, historical,
    & paranormal fiction. It is a unique story of different individual's lives...Lives usually despairing who
    obliviously find them selves on Hope Street.

    I won this through an Early Reviewer Program The Library Thing conducts each month.  It is not
    recommended for seventeen year old or younger.  There are a few "F" bombs, some sexual situations  
    -although not explicit - and has subject matters not appropriate for the younger generations.

    I was surprised when I learned the author lives with a son and a husband. Throughout the story I felt an
     undercurrent of hostility toward men and the marriage institution.

    As with many books in this generation, love is shamefully mistaken by sexual attraction. Yes, that
    attraction must be there to develop a strong marriage and commitment, but it is often backwards.
    AFTER one falls in love, that bond can  be strengthened - after marriage commitment is solemnized -
    with the intimate sexual act.

    The writing was done quite well. The characters were well-defined and realistic. Surrounding scene
    images were clearly depicted. There were even moments of clever humor.  The Title was well assigned
    but the book cover is lacking in accuracy in regards to the storyline.

    My review of this book offers a Three Stars rating. I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest
    review, of which I have given

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  • Posted June 21, 2014

    If I only had two words to describe this book it would be magica

    If I only had two words to describe this book it would be magical and historical.  I am not a huge magical fan, but this book did it in such a way that this cynical reader could enjoy it!  Alba ends up in a house where women have taken refuge in times of need and with a limited stay they are encouraged to spend their time finding their true passion.

    The house talks and although I am not a magical reader, the fact that they were historical figures, mainly female authors, I totally got into it.  I loved how the authors were giving these women encouragement and advice, I kind of wish I could have stayed there at some point!  There is a sweet twist at the end that really made the book for me!  

    I would absolutely recommend this book to readers who aren't completely into historical and don't mind a little magic in their reading!  

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  • Posted June 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A truly delightful read.

    This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. Each character comes alive and evolves in her own unique manner. The characters and their personalities are only enhanced by the special personality of the house itself. It is a story of friendship, personal growth, daily struggle and victory, and of course. always hope. It is a book I will read again and again when I want to lift my spirits and I will recommend it to others. I will now always be on the lookout for my own "House at the End of Hope Street".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    Really didn't like this phony babyish book at all. To me it seem

    Really didn't like this phony babyish book at all. To me it seemed like a Harry Potter Self-Help for Girls, with all the talking pictures on the wall. I didn't feel our female forebears were respected enough, or dispensed enough wisdom, especially from their own lives, to make them more than cheap parlour tricks on the wall.

    I disliked the style, mostly description, long paragraphs and backstory for all the main characters, especially Alba Ashby, and her nasty family, occasionally broken by some stilted dialogue. Everyone's story was constructed so she could be "fixed," which would then be called "plot." It's a kind of feminist romance, coming-of-age, rites of passage novel, set in a magic psychic house haunted by chatty photos. Hopeless.

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    After Alba Ashby is emotionally and professionally devastated, s

    After Alba Ashby is emotionally and professionally devastated, she finds herself standing outside 11 Hope Street. Invited inside by its proprietrix, Peggy Abbot, Alba is welcomed to stay…but there is a catch. A woman may only stay 99 nights during her quest to turn her life around. The house itself has its own special inhabitants, talking portraits on the walls of some of the famous and infamous women who have stayed in the house. Taking the advice of the portraits and strangely appearing notes, Alba tries to piece her life back together. Along with Alba, two other women are currently staying at the house: Greer and Carmen, who have their own paths to take. THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET is creative, magical, and full of feminine wisdom and power. Reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman’s magical realism, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET will tug at your heartstrings and invigorate your sense of wonder and optimism. Alba really resonated for me on many levels and I felt emotionally connected to her throughout her journey. Beautifully haunting and well-written with wickedly imaginative characters, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET will touch your soul.

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