Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.
She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.
Review: If you are in the mood for an uplifting read and don't mind delving into the magical realism genre then check out The House at the End of Hope Street. I really like the premise of the book in which a ] house at the end of Hope Street has served women in their time of need for many generations. Its magical walls have protected them and given them what they needed to heal emotionally and physically. There are many characters featured in this book, however, Alba's story is what held my attention the most.
Alba finds herself on the doorstep of the house, her future crushed and with nowhere else to go, she receives a warm welcome and the usual 99 days to stay and to find a way to get back on her feet. Surrounded by the house’s comforting presence, and with help from such famous past residents as Virginia Woolf and Florence Nightingale, who speak to her from their wall portraits, Alba slowly begins to recover. Her journey of self-discovery is intertwined with those of other women staying at the house, and together their stories weave a beautiful narrative of redemption and hope.
The pacing of the book is quite slow, but the author's great writing and engaging characters kept me reading when normally I would have dropped the book. Despite its whimsical atmosphere, there are dark topics such as loss and abuse are featured in the story but don't overwhelm its hopeful outlook. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable read and I would like to try another book by this author.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Words of Caution: There is some language, allusion to abuse, and sexual situations. Recommended for adults.
If you like this book try: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman