Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! A day to celebrate those delicious little chips that we use in cookies, brownies, cakes, pancakes, and so much more. My mother's favorite cookie is chocolate chip. I bake them each week. I have a couple of interesting (at least to me) historical bits of information for you today. On May 15 . . . in 1567 Mary, Queen of Scots, marries her third husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell (they originally met in France); Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony create National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 in New York; Las Vegas is founded in 1910 when 100 acres (that will become downtown) are auctioned off; Mickey Mouse makes his premiere in 1928 in Plane Crazy; Anne Boleyn stands trial and is convicted of treason, adultery, and incest in 1536. Anne is condemned to death. McDonald's opens its first restaurant in San Bernardino, California in 1940.
The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown is set in 2000 and then goes back in time to tell the story. Sophie Cass is a reporter with The New York Times (but not for much longer if she does not have a great article). Sophie is determined to interview Gabriel Lambert, the artist, for an article she is writing about her deceased Aunt Vita. Gabriel knew Vita in France. Gabriel does not want to see Sophie and the family has refused her requests. Sophie writes Gabriel to let him know she will be visiting him and she will not be put off any longer (pushy and very determined). Gabriel is ninety-five years old and dying. This is Sophie’s last chance to connect with him. The story takes us back to 1939. Gabriel was in France at the beginning of World War II. He needed assistance getting out of the country and went to Varian Fry and the American Relief Center (ARC). We get to see what life was like for Gabriel and others who stayed at Villa Air Bel outside Marseille, France. A group of them rented the house. Some were helping people get out of the country and others were trying to escape (artists). Gabriel has a secret that he has kept all these years and he wants to take it to his grave. Sophie needs a good story to keep her job. What secret is Gabriel hiding? Will Sophie be happy with the answers she receives?
The House of Dreams is told in the first person from various characters’ point-of-view (mostly Gabriel’s). I really did not enjoy this novel. The writing is disjointed and awkward. It starts in 2000 and then jumps back in time. It keeps going back and forth (making it disjointed and hard to read). The House of Dreams is an extremely long and boring book (just from my perspective). I had a hard time reading this book. It just did not engage me (or draw me in) as a reader. I thought Gabriel's "secret" was obvious. I decided to take a guess before I read the book and see if I was right. I was (I kept hoping for a twist)! The ending is odd. I wanted to quit reading after a couple of chapters, but I pushed on and finished it (I kept hoping it would get better). I give The House of Dreams 1.5 out of 5 stars. This novel was just not for me. I am really tired of novels dealing with World War II (I keep hoping I will get a really good one). We have had a plethora of them over the last year (and most of them were not enjoyable).
Ms. Brown's other novel is The Perfume Garden. I received a complimentary copy of The House of Dreams from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.
I am off to watch Call the Midwife (I lead such an exciting life). Tomorrow I have to take my mother to a doctor's appointment (how much do you want to bet that she will try and cancel)! Wish me luck in getting her to her appointment (maybe even on time if I am really, really lucky). Have a delightful evening. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader