Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Last House

Last House by Jessica Shattuck
5/14/24; 336 pages

Last House by Jessica Shattuck is a recommended generational family saga that spans nearly eighty years.

In 1953 Nick Taylor, a WWII veteran, is married to Bet (Elizabeth) and they have two children, Katherine and Harry. Nick and Bet met each other before he shipped out in the 1940's when she was an English major who worked as a code breaker for the war effort. Now she is raising their children while Nick is a lawyer for American Oil and travels to the Middle East. They bought a vacation house they call Last House, a secluded country home deep in the Vermont mountains. It is a place you could survive WWIII. In 1968, the second part of the novel follows Katherine facing the challenges and turbulence of the times. The novel continues to follow the family to 2026.

At its heart, Last House succeeds as a literary family saga more than historical fiction, although it does cover generations in the plot. The narrative unfolds through the points-of-view of Nick, Bet, and Katherine. This perspective showcases the differences between generations. Nick and Bet are more nuanced characters than Katherine, but she is portrayed as vehemently following her beliefs. At the forefront are generational differences, but life is made up of such and things change through the years.

All of the characters follow their personal beliefs concerning political, social, environmental, and human rights through the times in which they live. Admittedly, while I found the quality of writing excellent, I struggled to keep my interest or even care about these characters. This novel may not have been a good fit for me; it felt like it was trying too hard. Thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with an advance reader's copy. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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