Book Reviews of Keeping the House

Keeping the House
Keeping the House
Author: Ellen Baker
ISBN-13: 9781400066353
ISBN-10: 1400066352
Pages: 544
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 21

3.8 stars, based on 21 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

9 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Keeping the House on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
A multi-generational saga centered around the semi-dysfunctional Michelson family. Dolly, a 1950's housewife, comes to town and falls in love with their vacant house. She begins to clean it and enters into the lives of the Michelsons. The narrative reaches as far back as the 1890's and as far forward as the 1950's and covers many generations. The book is as much a statement about the power of conformity and the pressures of familial life as it is a reflection on the limitations of a woman's role in marriage. In this sense, the book works.
My problems with the book were more related to the writing than the content. Huge chunks of narration violate the old "show, don't tell" rule of writing. And at 500 + pages, this book is a doorstop. At page 250, I was scratching my head and asking myself, "Why has it taken so long to move the story so little?" This is a book I had to encourage myself to finish.
reviewed Keeping the House on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book has it all: history, romance, family dynamics, scenic descriptions. I loved the excerpts from the 1930's - 1950's ladies magazines and articles that started the chapters regarding the main character, Dolly. It really helped me understand the society she was living in at that time, and in turn her actions. The author includes so many little details that paint the picture of the decades she's writing about. Really well done.
reviewed Keeping the House on + 76 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Loved this book. Baker is a talented writer & I look forward to more of her. This novel follows a 1950's era housewife struggling with her new marriage and life in a new town. She falls in love with an abandoned house in the neighborhood and learns about the owners and their scandals/secrets through stories of other housewives. Very detailed and rich.
reviewed Keeping the House on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
At the beginning, I liked the story. But as the main character, Dolly, got entranced with the big beautiful house, JJ (war hero and drunk), and the Mickelson family and their past, so did I. After that, I hated putting down the book. The ending let me down though and technically left open the door for a sequel. Overall, there was one interesting question that lingered with me as it traveled through the 1917-1950, was it the family or the critical eyes of the town (society) that was the problem?
reviewed Keeping the House on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book has it all: history, romance, family dynamics, scenic descriptions. I loved the excerpts from the 1930's - 1950's ladies magazines and articles that started the chapters regarding the main character, Dolly. It really helped me understand the society she was living in at that time, and in turn her actions. The author includes so many little details that paint the picture of the decades she's writing about. Really well done.
reviewed Keeping the House on + 224 more book reviews
I can't believe I slogged through this whole book. I found it to be boring, written in a sort of plodding way that just did not compel me to read on. But I did. I guess the story was somewhat original, but all of the relationships seemed predictable and there were no surprises. I would not recommend this book.
reviewed Keeping the House on + 35 more book reviews
I really did love this book. It is the type of book that I prefer. I love books that go back and forth between generations, an old house full of memories, and characters that you fall in love with! My one complaint was that until about half way through the book, I was VERY confused about who was who, what time period we were in, who was related in what way...etc. Once you catch on about half way through, that gets a little easier. The whole family tree and dynamics had me confused the whole first half though. I was constantly confusing what generations Jinny, Elissa, and Henry were in. Was their dad Jack of John? BUT once you get the hang of that...you will love it! Loved the mystery. Loved the love stories, and the reality of "the grass is always greener." I hope she writes many more!!
reviewed Keeping the House on + 49 more book reviews
Keeping the House by Ellen Baker is about a newlywed who moves into a new town where her husband opens a car dealership with an Army buddy in 1950. Dolly beings her married life there and starts to make friends while trying to please her husband, which is not always so easy. Byron is a veteran of WWII who continues to build a wall around him that Dolly has a difficult time penetrating. With the help of popular magazines such as the Ladies' Home Journal, she strives to make her marriage work with tips like: "Take an interest in his appearance. Keeping his clothes in order is your job; encouraging him to look his best and admiring him when he does should be your pleasure." As amusing as this suggestion may be, it was sound and serious advice for the times, but it is still not quite doing the job in making their marriage work. As Dolly becomes more disillusioned with her husband, she also becomes more intrigued with the big abandoned home in town. She dreams of living in it and fixing it up'a true HGTV woman before her time. It becomes an obsession with her. Through the Ladies' Aid quilting group she attempts to learn more about generations of Mickelsons who lived in the grand home since the late 1800s. The book meanders back and forth through the Mickelsons' family history as well as Dolly's current life. I found the book to be an interesting trip back in time and a fun read. I enjoyed Dolly's enthusiasm both in her marriage and her mansion mania. My book club liked it, too. Read other reviews at http://readinginthegarden.blogspot.com
reviewed Keeping the House on
Loved the book!