The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag is a slightly more whimsical and magical book than I normally go for. It is set in a magical house in Cambridge where notable women for generations have sought refuge. Here they have 99 nights to turn their lives around, find their path and listen to the advice magically offered by previous residents including Virginia Woolfe, Emmeline Pankhurst and Florence Nightingale.
Our protagonist Alba finds herself mysterious drawn to the house one night and soon finds herself inside. Her life at Cambridge has recently fallen apart and she is a little lost. It is here that she finds hope and guidance. She is joined in residence by the owner, Peggy, a flamboyant Portuguese woman running from a secret and a washed up actress.
Alba’s story line is by far the strongest of them. During her tenure family secrets are uncovered, personal discoveries are made and Alba grows into a new person. The other story lines, however, vary in quality. For me that was the main draw back of the novel – it was uneven at best. Each chapter rotates through each of the characters and this only served to highlight the weaknesses.
Who would like this book? Overall I enjoyed The House at the End of Hope Street, and I can see how some would absolutely love it. I was not the perfect reader for the book as I don’t usually enjoy magic realism all that much. My ability to suspend disbelief was strained at times. In general I think book lovers will love this book. It is about reading, writing and creating. And of course, the more English literature you know, the more allusions you will pick up on. The parts of the novel that appealed to me the most were the collegiate setting certain twists that emerged in Alba’s story line.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.