The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel

The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel

by Menna van Praag

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Overview

The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel by Menna van Praag

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 George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670784639
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/04/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Beguiling and bright, van Praag’s . . . novel delights with deft writing and charming characters."
Kirkus

"Van Praag’s writing is bright and hopeful, while rich characters combined with an enchanting blend of the real and the mystical make this tribute to individuality a delightful and engaging read. Fans of Jasper Fforde, Gloria Naylor, or Sarah Addison Allen will especially appreciate this story as a celebration of feminine strength and accomplished women through the ages."
Booklist (starred review)

“Van Praag’s fairytale first novel features a house that can change one’s life. . . . Fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen should like.”
Library Journal

“Absolutely delightful . . . . Fans of Sarah Addison Allen will thoroughly enjoy this story from start to finish. Well-drawn fictional characters, sprinkled with famous female characters from the past, combine to tell a tale of life, love, and discovering your deepest desires.”
RT Book Reviews (top pick, 4.5 stars)

"Sweet, magical, bookish and romantic."
Sarah Addison Allen, bestselling author of The Peach Keeper

“This fresh, whimsical book is as full of heart as the house at its heart is full of fascinating women. We should all have such friends and such a refuge!”
Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Falling Together and Love Walked In

“Menna van Praag has created a magical book about an enchanted house and the notable women who inhabit it, both living and dead. Richly atmospheric, literary, and textured, The House at the End of Hope Street casts an enthralling spell, giving both characters and readers not only what they most want, but what they ultimately need.”
Brunonia Barry, bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places

“An enchanting novel . . . Fans of Sarah Addison Allen will be delighted to discover the house at the end of Hope Street, a magical place where ninety-nine days is just long enough to change a life.”
Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients and The Lost Art of Mixing

“I entered The House at the End of Hope Street and was enchanted—literally under the spell—of Menna van Praag's tender, playful, beautiful writing.  It fulfills my book lover's dream of an English literary landscape, in the most surprising and magical way.”
Luanne Rice, bestselling author of Little Night

“This exceptional novel enchanted me from the first beautiful page. If only I could stay a spell myself at the house at the end of Hope Street.”
Melissa Senate, bestselling author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

“The House at the End of Hope Street is a sunrise of a novel, so fresh and lovely, whimsical and original that it will enchant and surprise even the most jaded of readers.”
Barbara O’Neal, author of The Garden of Happy Endings

“The story offers a wonderful mix of all-too-real problems in a fantastical setting. And who couldn’t use a Hope Street at some point in her life?”
Juliette Fay, author of Deep Down True and The Shortest Way Home

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
“This house may not give you what you want, but it will give you what you need” (p. 8).

Alba Ashby isn’t quite sure how she wound up at the end of Hope Street. Intellectually, the nineteen–year–old Cambridge student is brilliant beyond her years, but emotionally, she’s always lived “in a tiny box with a tight lid” (p. 1). Then, in the wake of an unimaginable betrayal Alba, paralyzed by shame and heartbreak, wanders the streets of the city and finds herself in front of a mysterious mansion. Enchanted by a song from her childhood, Alba impulsively and uncharacteristically, rings the bell.

Peggy Abbott is not surprised to see Alba on her doorstep. The spry and sparky eighty–two– year–old has spent her life opening her door to women whom she’s never met, but whose arrival she always anticipates. Even in the grip of despair, Alba senses the magic that surrounds both Peggy and the house. “It is, quite clearly, alive” (p. 3).

Warmed by a cup of Peggy’s rich hot chocolate, Alba notices that the walls of the house are “covered with endless rows of photographs” (p. 5). Peggy explains that each of the women pictured once visited the house, including Florence Nightingale and George Eliot, two of the talking portraits that first catch Alba’s eye. Now Alba—like hundreds before her—has been brought to the house so that she might heal and begin life anew. Peggy and the house will help her; the only requirement is that she cannot stay longer than ninety–nine nights.

Alba soon meets her two housemates, Carmen, a sultry Portuguese singer, and Greer, a stunning red–haired actress. At first, it’s difficult for Alba to see why either one would need sanctuary since they both exude a confidence that the shy and inexperienced Alba has never known. But, gifted with a special sight, Alba begins to sense the secrets they are hiding: “as she stares, Alba starts to see something else. The woman is scared, wearing her self–confidence like perfume: a heavy, seductive scent to distract onlookers from the broken, blackened pieces of herself she wants no one else to see.” (p.17)

The women are kind to Alba, but—despite their outward appearances—each is preoccupied by her own troubles. Carmen is haunted by her abusive husband, while Greer fears the prospect of a lonely, loveless future. Even Peggy, distracted by the belief that she will soon die, is torn between the need to find another woman to take over as the home’s caretaker and her desire to live her remaining days with her lover, Harry.

Fortunately, Alba is accustomed to finding her own way. Disdained by her three older siblings and abandoned by her father, Alba’s only childhood companion was her mentally unstable mother. But besides providing Alba with books and encouraging notes, Peggy’s house gives Alba a friend—albeit one no one else can see—Stella, a ghost. And when Alba’s life is touched by real tragedy, only Stella can give her the strength she needs to transform her life.

The House at the End of Hope Street is the story of a magical house that helps women to renew their hope just when they think there is nothing left to hope for. It’s a story of second chances, forgiveness, and chocolate cake. Winsome, wise, and delightfully imagined, Menna van Praag’s debut novel promises to captivate and enchant readers looking for a little bit of magic in their lives.

ABOUT MENNA VAN PRAAG

Menna van Praag is an author, journalist, and Oxford graduate. She is also the author of the autobiographical fable Men, Money and Chocolate. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and young son.

A CONVERSATION WITH MENNA VAN PRAAG

Q. Was there a real Grace Abbott? If not, what inspired you to write a story about a sanctuary for women who have run out of hope?

I love Grace; I wish she was real, but as it is she’s born out of love, desire, and imagination—inspired by several real people in my life. The story for The House at the End of Hope Street was in turn inspired by a dream I had to buy a big house and give grants to aspiring artists (writers/painters/singers/actors/etc.) to live there for one year and do nothing else but study and promote their craft. When I graduated from Oxford I waitressed full–time while writing at night, so I know how hard it is to fulfill an artistic passion while holding down a day job. Anyway, since I can’t yet afford to make that a reality I created the fantasy version first.

Q. Is there any significance to the novel’s Cambridge setting?

I live in Cambridge and love it more than any place I’ve ever been. I knew the protagonist, Alba, was a brilliant academic so it absolutely made sense she’d be studying at Cambridge University. Everything else fell into place after that. Funnily enough, though I’ve lived here for thirty–five years, I didn’t know there was a Hope Street until after I finished the book. The title was merely metaphorical so I was delighted to discover it was actually a physical place. Then something very spooky–cool happened. I’d picked the number eleven for the house, as it’s a significant number for me, then a reader told me there isn’t a number eleven on the real Hope Street in Cambridge. And as you already know if you’ve read the novel, the house in the book is invisible except to those who need it. That gave me goose bumps!

Q. Are there any elements in the novel that you think an American audience might miss?

I did have some funny moments with my editor while we were “translating” the novel from English into American. She wasn’t sure what a “council estate” was. The closest thing I could think of was “the projects” but that wouldn’t work for the book at all, so I had to cut it. Similarly, Albert was compulsively clothed in tatty jumpers, but that word has a different meaning in American too, so now he wears cardigans. Our education system is quite different as well, though I tried my best to explain it without being overly expositional. In terms of describing Cambridge, I hope my writing has done our beautiful town justice.

Q. How did you come to create Alba, Greer, and Carmen? Do you feel that their dilemmas are representative of those faced by most women today?

Alba is the character most like myself, especially when I was her age—a timid, bookish type who wants to connect to other people but finds it hard. I then created characters to compliment her, so I’d have a variety of women as different as they could possibly be. In earlier drafts there were many more women in the house, one from each generation, which I loved, but their plots were more superficial so, very reluctantly—following a suggestion from my agents—I cut most of them out and just focused on Alba, Greer, Carmen, and Peggy. Yes, I do feel their difficulties and dilemmas: learning to love themselves, not losing their identities while in a relationship, following their dreams, falling in love, having a family, are reflective of those faced by many women today, yesterday, and probably tomorrow, too!

Q. Each of your novel’s main characters—including Peggy herself—is unable to admit what she truly wants out of life. Do you think it’s more difficult for women than men to see and accept their dreams?

I can’t speak in generalities but from my own experience and those of my friends, I would say it’s perhaps more difficult for women to realize their dreams—they can lose themselves in relationships instead, especially when young—and accept and act on them, especially once they have a family. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was quite young and purposefully waited to have a child until after I was published. I knew I’d find it too hard to be an aspiring writer and a mother. It still isn’t easy, but my husband is very supportive so I’m thankful that it’s not impossible.

Q. Peggy has a serious sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate. This is a thread that seems to run through all of your books. Does chocolate play a crucial role in your own life?

I am a self–confessed chocoholic. A day does not pass when I don’t eat some (okay, quite a lot) of the sweet stuff, along with a slice of cake if I’m lucky, often accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate. I’m also quite particular about the quality of the chocolate I consume, preferring the expensive sort with high cocoa content. Fortunately, my husband is a brilliant chef and always happy to create delicious cakes, often after midnight . . .

Q. On your website, you posted a video explaining how you’d wanted to be a writer ever since you could remember, but had little success until you self–published your first book. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer? Is being a writer as fulfilling as you imagined?

I adore writing. No matter if I’d never been published I would have written for the rest of my life. I love words. I love sentences so beautiful and true they take my breath away. Getting paid to write is heaven and I’m very grateful for it. But you can’t count on that, it can’t be the reason you write. Allow me to quote some of the women in Hope Street:

“I write because I cannot NOT write.” —Charlotte Brontë “I write because I’ve always written, can’t stop. I am a writing animal. The way a silk worm is a silk–producing animal.” —Doris Lessing

“I feel that by writing I am doing what is far more necessary than anything else.” —Virginia Woolf

“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” —Sylvia Plath

Now, if you feel the same way about writing then I believe it’s very likely you also have some innate talent for it. You may, and probably will, have to study your craft for many years before being published but if you write simply because you must, then I suggest you shouldn’t give up trying to get published until you succeed.

Q. Who are your main literary influences?

I’m not sure I can distinguish between direct literary influences and simply authors I love to read. I suspect that every book I’ve ever read and loved has dug its way into my subconscious and influenced my writing, much as I may want to claim it hasn’t. Perhaps unsurprisingly, magical realism is my favorite genre. I’ve long been in love with everything ever written by Alice Hoffman. Other favorite magical realism authors include: Isabelle Allende, Laura Esquivel, Sarah Addison Allen, and Barbara O’Neal. Favorite authors in general include: Erica Bauermeister, Maggie O’Farrell, Ann Patchett, Tracy Chevalier, Carey Wallace, Anita Shreve, Kate Morton, Anne Lamott, and Sue Monk Kidd.

Q. What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished editing my second novel, tentatively titled The Dress Shop of Dreams. It’s the story of a young scientist who falls in love with a bookshop owner, a man with a magical voice. She’s mourning the loss of her parents and needs the help of her grandmother, the seamstress who creates enchanted dresses that transform women’s lives, to learn how to love. She also needs to solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths. Just as I’d love to live in The House at the End of Hope Street, I’d also love to visit The Dress Shop of Dreams. As I wrote about the women who visit the shop:

These are the women who aren’t really looking for the perfect cocktail dress, the jeans that’ll lengthen their legs or the skirt that will slim their silhouette. No, these women are looking for much more than that; they are looking for a lost piece of themselves.

They will find it with the help of a magnificent blue silk ball gown or a dark red tea dress. And what could be more wonderful than that?!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • If you were to ever find yourself at the house at the end of Hope Street, who are some of the women that you would like to meet there? What might materialize in your room: a wardrobe, books, a piano, or something else?
  • Besides the women mentioned in the novel, who are some others that you feel must once have visited the house?
  • Would you—like Peggy—give up hopes of having a family of your own in order to be the caretaker of such a magical place?
  • Which of character could you relate to most—Alba, Greer, or Carmen?
  • Are Alba’s psychic abilities a blessing or a curse?
  • Does Carmen stay with Tiago because she was accustomed to the abuse? Is Tiago’s death justified self–defense?
  • If you were one of Alba’s siblings, would you have complied with your father’s request to punish your mother for her affair?
  • Does society still hold a double standard regarding infidelity, frowning more upon women who cheat than men?
  • Do you feel sorry for Blake or despise him for the way he treats Greer? Do you think that most womanizers are driven by something painful in their past?
  • Did you suspect that Dr. Skinner was a woman before Alba confessed it to her father? Why was Alba unable to see Zoë’s adoration for so long?
  • Elizabeth and Albert were brought together by E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, and Peggy and Harry were brought together, in part, by a love of movies. How important are shared tastes and interests in a romantic relationship?
  • Why does the house decide to change its all–women rule and allow Edward and Tilly to move in?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
    Colleen33 More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Stephanie_Bauer More than 1 year ago
    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!
    lulu937 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    LAMorganCT More than 1 year ago
    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.  
    nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
    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.
    sneps More than 1 year ago
    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
    hghtashbry More than 1 year ago
    **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.
    literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
     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!
    deWinter More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Ashley_UNC More than 1 year ago
    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.
    lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
    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.
    The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
    "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.
    JulieMModerson More than 1 year ago
    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
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed this book. Talking portraits, a magical house, and lots of little mysteries to keep you up all night reading!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    LAWonder More than 1 year ago
    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
    KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
    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!  
    JustAnyone More than 1 year ago
    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".
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    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.
    CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
    This book had so much going on, I loved it!   The House at the End of Hope Street was a fun read.   It is a story of women who are feeling hopeless being able to have a safe place to go to get the help they don’t even know they need.  Little do these women know that they are entering an enchanted and magical house.     The fact that all the characters were able to share their point of view made this book that much more enjoyable.  I am not sure that I can choose a favorite, but I did really like Peggy, the landlady of the house.   I enjoyed watching her try to help each of her “girls” become their own person and find out what they are suppose to do with their lives.   It was also interesting to watch her realize that there was to be more to her life than just being a landlady.   The use of important literary and historical figures throughout the story was great.  I loved hearing their voices and their advice on what they different characters should or should not do.   Even just bantering between themselves made me smile.   This was a great addition to the story.  Although, I still don’t know why anyone would hang pictures of people in the bathroom and then have conversations with them while in there.  
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A charming, lovely story filled with strong women, magic and love. One I'll read over and over! Zoe, Carmen and Greer each face the worst things life can throw at you, aided by a mysterious women named Peggy; a magical house, and a few ghosts. Lovely without being sacharine sweet, this book is an homage to strong women.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love books that have a little bit of that magical flair. More than a little bit and I feel as if I’ve hit the reading jack pot. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag is full of magic, from a house that seems to pop up just as you need it, ghosts and portraits that give, sometimes unwanted, advice, and a 99 day chance for a young woman to get her life back on track, this novel keeps the reader enchanted.  When Alba, an extraordinary genius with unbelievable sight, experiences the worst event of her life (she’s not exaggerating either), she wanders the streets with no idea what should happen next. That’s when the house pops up out of nowhere, big and Victorian with vines of wisteria and the smells of calm hovering in the air, and reaches to her like a mother reaches for a hurting child. As you read on, you learn that the house has been rescuing women, especially soon to be famous women like Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf, for 200 years.  Alba’s story quickly becomes entwined with the three other women in the house, one hiding from her past, one scared of her future, and the wonderful woman, Peggy, who keeps the house and helps the young women who cross the threshold. One of my favorite parts of this book was the way that the characters stories became so connected. Originally, I was concerned that this was going to be a story of stories, instead of a fluid whole, but Van Praag didn’t disappoint.  Even though the pages are full of heartbreaking life events, you learn, along with the women experiencing them, that one “must be allowed to feel her grief, must dive headlong into despair, before she can emerge again, her spirit richer and deeper than before” (46). While trying to find herself in all of the madness of her life, Alba is also on the search, rather reluctantly sometimes, for her father, who makes the story even more rich.  Although I loved the book, the characters, the story, the mysteries that unravel one tiny strand at a time, I didn’t love the number of perspectives that the story was told from. Almost every character gets his or her say, which made me feel like my favorites didn’t get enough time with the spotlight. I also had a hard time, whether because of the different circumstances or perspective, relating with Greer, one of the women living in the house.  I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think it was exactly the book that I needed to read! Follow the link and get your own copy! You won’t be disappointed.