Margot Livesey, The House on Fortune Street

I must shamefacedly admit that I confused Margot Livesey with Penelope Lively when I purchased this book! After having read The House on Fortune Street, however, I can only thank serendipity for my own confusion because it was a brilliant and moving novel. Told from the perspective of four different characters, Sean, Cameron, Dara and Abigail, we learn what leads up to the central, tragic event that occurs a short way into the book. Each of the characters has a literary godfather or godmother: Sean is writing his Ph.D. on Keats; Cameron has a strange affinity for Lewis Caroll; Dara is sadly drawn to Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Brontë; and Abigail’s grandfather imbued her with a love for Dickens. Livesey draws these disparate characters into a beautiful whole; I was constantly being surprised by the characters (in good ways) because just when I’d decided that I didn’t like someone, I would be granted a glimpse into their past that made me understand them much better. The novel is one that will stick with you, even though nothing much “happens” during its course. And I think I will want to read some more by Margot Livesey!

(Read on March 6, 2010)

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