Friday, February 21, 2014

House of Miracles : What She Read Review

Find it at your neighborhood bookstore
via indiebound, Ms. Hume's website,
 or Amazon.
House of Miracles, Ulrica Hume's new collection of inter-related short stories, shepherds readers on the life journeys of two women - generations apart - whose paths intersect when they choose to inhabit two flats in the same San Francisco house. Each woman is, in her own way, perplexed by the everyday emptiness of her life and by her own inability to create meaning and satisfaction within her circumstances.  Each experiences moments of fleeting happiness, as when the elder, German-born Mrs.Van Meurs meets Albert Einstein at a hotel in Palm Springs or when the young executive Janet MacDonald shares a subtle gesture of conspiratorial condescension with her boyfriend Jack. And each dreams dreams of true love.

While most of the short stories are told from Janet's perspective or Mrs. Van Meurs', Janet's boyfriend Jack commands a few, as does her sexually abusive and reliably reckless father Jerry.  Through these characters, we readers explore the quotidian cruelties and failures of love that occur behind the closed doors of  neighbors and friends.

These stories are written in a realistic vein, but Hume punctuates her tales with surprising images that conjure a bittersweet, dreamily lyrical beauty.

Recommended for those wishing to explore the fleeting bliss and regular disappointment born of profoundly flawed "love"; to face the realities of old age, dementia, and death from within another person's perspective; or to muse upon how proximity and habit impact the formation of our friendships, familial relationships, and even our romantic partnerships.

MFB, with gratitude to Ms. Hume for sharing her stories with me,

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