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The House on Fortune Street: A Novel (P.S.)…

The House on Fortune Street: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2009)

by Margot Livesey

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3732929,015 (3.69)27
Title:The House on Fortune Street: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Margot Livesey
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, England, Suicide

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The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey

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    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both A Visit from the Good Squad and The House on Fortune Street follow the often unexpected intricacies of human relationships of a handful of young adults.

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It seems like a stroke of mutual good luck for Abigail Taylor and Dara MacLeod when they meet while studying at St. Andrews University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Despite their differences, the two young women form a firm and fast friendship and a lasting, unshakable bond. Even years later, they remain such an unlikely pair.

Abigail - an actress who confidently uses her talent both on and offstage - charms everyone she meets, but believes herself immune to love. Dara - a counselor at a crisis center - is convinced that everyone is somehow irrevocably marked by their childhood; she throws herself into romantic relationships with frightening intensity.

Yet now it appears that each woman has finally found "true love". Is this another stroke of luck? Proof that each relationship is a once-in-a-lifetime love? Abigail has apparently found love with her academic boyfriend, Sean, and Dara with a tall, dark violinist named Edward; who quite literally falls at her feet. However, soon after Dara moves into Abigail's downstairs apartment, trouble threatens both relationships, as well as their friendship.

For Abigail, the trouble comes in the form of an anonymous letter, addressed to Sean and accusing Abigail of being unfaithful; for Dara, a reconciliation with her estranged father Cameron - who left the family when Dara was ten - reawakens some very complicated feelings. Through four ingeniously interlocking narratives - Sean's, Cameron's, Dara's, and Abigail's - we gradually come to understand how these characters' lives were shaped by both chance and determination. Whatever the source, there is absolutely no mistaking the veil that falls when tragedy strikes the house on Fortune Street.

I absolutely loved this book. In my opinion, it was a poignant and thought-provoking story - very intelligently and thoughtfully written. For me, this was also a compulsively readable story - one that I just could not put down. It was an interesting and engaging plot, and I needed to know what would happen next. I give The House on Fortune Street: A Novel by Margot Livesey an A+! and must say, that while this is the first book by this author that I've read, it most certainly won't be my last. ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Dec 4, 2014 |
This book is very well done. The structure is unique - it's a novel but reads almost like connected short stories as, beyond the first section, each following section offers a different character's perspective. The book deals with a few heavy subject matters and certainly will not be to everyone's taste. In fact, I think this is one of those books that people will either love or hate - no in between. I feel that Livesey writes very well about love, marriage, fidelity and trust. and has created a strong novel that makes you think. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 5, 2013 |
Wasn't completely hooked at the beginning - I was thrown off because the book starts with Sean's section, whereas the flap copy made it seem like the friendship between the two girls, Dara and Abigail, was central - but I got more interested partway through Sean's section, and I loved Cameron's, Dara's, and Abigail's. The four sections, from four different points of view (with no switching back and forth, but pieces falling into place and making sense throughout), give the reader to understand how impossible it is to understand other people - what hidden things go on in their lives, the deep currents of feeling that are invisible, unguessable, mystifying. I can already tell I will forget, to some extent, the twists and turns of the story and the characters' relationships, and I will enjoy re-reading it sometime in the future.

What I came to understand was that there is a level of pain that destroys a person. If you take enough medicine to avoid that pain, you don't become your old self; you become a drugged zombie. (48)

All that fuss about the tree in the forest, watched or unwatched, was mere wishful thinking. If a passionately concerned participant made no difference, why on earth should a detached observer? (176)

This was another kind of magical thinking she had learned was common. When she wasn't keeping ill fortune at bay by imagining crises, she was doing her best to attract good fortune by pretending it was already present. (181)

"Secrecy isn't always a lie. People talk nowadays as if there are no taboos, as if everyone should act on their feelings, but what if you have the wrong feelings, what are you meant to do then?" (Cameron to Dara, 227)

"It doesn't matter how stupid the reasons are, if you're in the grip of a feeling it isn't stupid. You can't imagine it will ever change." (Dara to Abigail, 265)

( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Interesting tidbits, but, ultimately, the interlocking narratives didn't work for me. ( )
  sly_wit | Mar 29, 2013 |
This dark and haunting novel is lyrical and sad and beautifully constructed. The subject is pederasty, a topic inherently too taboo to explore in an even-handed way or without provoking overriding disgust. But Livesey has created a story about the destructive pain caused by inappropriate desire told from the points of view of several characters.

The core characters are Cameron and Dara, the father who thinks of himself as a present day Charles Dodgeson whose particular affinity for pre-pubescent girls is also documented in his photography. Dara is his daughter, a social worker, who as an adult comes to know what her father is. Cameron’s wife, Fiona (whose slight body is androgenous as a 10 year old girl’s), throws him out when she discovers inappropriate photos taken by him of Ingrid, Dara’s childhood friend.

Dara’s neighbors are Sean, who is writing a book on euthanasia – recently divorced – and Dara’s confidant, Abigail, a theater producer. It is Sean who discovers Dara’s body. The tension builds as the reader understands the extent of Cameron’s obsession, filling one with foreboding, and making the experience of reading this book like turning the pages on a time-bomb. Secrets are revealed, unforeseen relationships are brought to light, and the shattering truth is exposed. Livesey’s prose is controlled, almost repressed, and tightly checked (like Cameron’s supposed self-restraint).

Reading the book is like watching a movie unfold in slow motion attributable to some invisible substance that impedes normal motion, or a dance in which the dancers change partners in an effort to find the perfect match that will set their innermost being soaring, but only find the next entrapping embrace.

My favorite line: “A liar may not be telling you the truth but they are telling you something about themselves.” Livesey has written a book neither to be forgotten nor ignored. ( )
  Limelite | Dec 21, 2012 |
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The letter came, deceptively, in the kind of envelope a businesslike friend, or his supervisor, might use.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061451525, Hardcover)

It seems like mutual good luck for Abigail Taylor and Dara MacLeod when they meet at university and, despite their differences, become fast friends. Years later they remain inseparable: Abigail, the actress, allegedly immune to romance, and Dara, a therapist, throwing herself into relationships with frightening intensity. Now both believe they've found "true love." But luck seems to run out when Dara moves into Abigail's downstairs apartment. Suddenly both their friendship and their relationships are in peril, for tragedy is waiting to strike the house on Fortune Street.

Told through four ingeniously interlocking narratives, Margot Livesey's The House on Fortune Street is a provocative tale of lives shaped equally by chance and choice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:59 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Reveals how luck-- good and bad-- plays a vital role in our lives, and how the search for truth can prove a dangerous undertaking.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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