Sunday, May 17, 2009
The Red House
I love old houses. When my husband and I bought our first house in St. Louis, it was a big, old, brick rowhouse, built in 1896. I loved the history of the house, the stories that it held in it's walls. When I walked down the staircase, I would imagine women, holding their long skirts up with one hand, as they made their way down the staircase. So, when I saw, Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continuously Lived-in House, I grabbed it, eager to read.
The Red House is the oldest continuously lived in house in New England. It was built by Walter Hatch in 1646. When he died, he left a will saying that the house could never be sold. It was to be passed down from generation to generation. It was, for over 300 years, until 1965 when Sarah Messer's parents bought the house. The author alternates between telling early history of the house and her own family's history. She does this only marginally successfully. The historical stories of the house are interesting, her family's stories are not. Some of the family stories are relevant and relate to the house, but then others seemed to be tossed in for no apparent reason.
At one point, the author describes one of her boyfriends: "He smelled like geraniums, screen doors, metal screws. Once, while walking, he grabbed a handful of apple petals and stuffed them into a tree. "There, this is you," he said."
Snippets and memories like this are tossed in amongst the house's story. It is jarring, and I found myself reading over them quickly, except some of them are just so odd, like the one above, that I tried to figure out the reasoning for including them. And really, unless you're a celebrity, I really don't care what your wore to your prom.
I'm giving this 3 stars based on the parts having to do with the house, the rest would get zero to one stars.