The House at the End of Hope Street
By Menna van Praag
Release Date: April 4, 2013
Source: PublisherSummary: 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.
Alba's academic career has just gone down the drain, and she has no idea what to do with her life now. Wandering around aimlessly and distraught, Alba finds herself on the doorstep of the house at the end of Hope Street, being ushered through the door by a sweet old lady named Peggy. Peggy explains to Alba that she has 99 days to stay in the house and turn her life around. With nothing else left to do, Alba accepts. Along with two other residents who are just as lost in life, Alba discovers the magic of the mysterious house she has taken residence in and has no idea how life changing the journey she is embarking on will really be.
The Goodreads summary uses the term "whimsical" to describe this book, and I think one word could not be more perfect. Alba is such a sweet, naive girl and I absolutely adored her character. I felt so sorry for her when it came to how her family treated her and how her academic career went to shambles. This girl is only 19-years-old yet she has been through so much in life. The house is the perfect place for her to be at this point in her life and her love for literature definitely allowed her to get the most out of her stay there. When the house gives her a room completely covered in bookshelves, I about died with longing. Any bibliophile can only dream of living in a place like that.
What makes this book so great, too, are the other characters scattered throughout the novel. Whether it's the home owner Peggy, the other guests Carmen and Greer, or the many ghosts/paintings of women in the house, it's impossible to not find a character you absolutely love. Peggy is a feisty old woman who has been running the household forever. Then, you have Carmen and Greer who are in the house for two entirely different reason, but who both need a little help in getting the push they need in their lives. This book has the perfect balance between all of the story lines so that you never get bored with one character's own journey at the house.
Overall, this story was so cute and, yes, whimsical that it was impossible to put down. I couldn't wait to see who Alba met next or to figure out just exactly what went wrong in each of the character's lives. Little details about each resident are scattered all throughout the novel, so you never really know the full story until the very end, which definitely makes reading the novel quite a journey. The House At the End of Hope Street is filled to the brim with hope and self discovery and it's the perfect book to sit down and get lost in. If you want a charming book that leaves you feeling happy and warm inside, definitely check this one out.