House Hold has the makings of an American classic: a perceptive and deeply affecting book about belonging to a place and yet never quite belonging.”Alice Kaplan, Yale University
“House Hold sketches the progress of one woman’s life according to the blueprint of those spacesarchitectural and familial and literaryshe has inhabited. Here is an autobiography told through buildings and books, then, and the characters that inhabit both are vividly rendered and entirely memorable.”Christopher Bakken, author of Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table
“At a moment when the American dream of home is in jeopardy, comes Ann Peters’s utterly engaging and singular memoir. Telling the stories of the houses she has inhabited, the landscapes, writers and people who have given her life meaning, she reminds us the search for home is also a quest for the soul’s refuge, and that an account of the places of one’s life can be a source of revelation.”Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter
“In House Hold, Ann Peters has built a literary edifice that seamlessly combines memoir, meditation and literary analysis. From Wisconsin to the boroughs of New York City and, at last, a farmhouse in upstate New York, Peters brings alive for herself and her readers the places she has lived in and dreamed of.”Willard Spiegelman, author of Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness
“Peters has engagingly blended her experiences of ‘dwelling’ and the final impossibility of possessing space with the experiences of American writers such as Henry James, Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, Paule Marshall, and William Maxwell.”Margot Peters, author of Lorine Niedecker: A Poet’s Life
“Nostalgia is a complicated version of love, Peters reveals in this elegiac memoir, which can threaten to fade the vivid present to a sepia-toned past.”Kirkus Reviews
“Peters writes beautifully on the meaning of authenticity and the need to belong.”Booklist
Recollections of place evoke ghosts, shadows and nostalgia. Peters (English/Stern Coll., Yeshiva Univ.) grew up in Wisconsin in a quirky house designed and built by her father. Perched on a hill overlooking woods and farms, the house reappears as the central image in the author's lyrical memoir--not just of her family and childhood, but of her lifelong struggle to reconcile "the call to take root, the call to set forth." After leaving Wisconsin, Peters lived in New York City, bringing with her expectations gleaned from movies, TV and, most of all, books. Her search for an apartment, for example, prompted memories of reading William Dean Howells' A Hazard of New Fortunes; her walks down Fifth Avenue recalled Henry James' The American Scene. Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, William Maxwell and, most movingly, New Yorker writer Maeve Brennan all hover, as Peters considers what place meant to them and how their rendering of homes, landscapes and cityscapes shaped her responses. Living on her own in New York, she moved often: Real estate became an obsession, and each space she inhabited became a text to parse. When newly married, she and her husband found a charming apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone, where Peters quickly steeped herself in the history of the building and the neighborhood. Although her mother exhorted her to "live in the healthy present," Peters felt drawn powerfully to the past. "Before you even walk in a room, you're remembering it," her husband once remarked. The author confesses that her veneration of history has led to some "back in the day" complaining, but she has come to understand that despite attachment to a home or intimacy with a beloved landscape, she is, inevitably, a transient--"a steward, not an owner" of place. Nostalgia is a complicated version of love, Peters reveals in this elegiac memoir, which can threaten to fade the vivid present to a sepia-toned past.