Faced with the sale of the century-old family summer house on Cape Cod where he had spent forty-two summers, George Howe Colt returned for one last stay with his wife and children. This poignant tribute to the eleven-bedroom jumble of gables, bays, and dormers that watched over weddings, divorces, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays, breakdowns, and love affairs for five generations interweaves Colt's final visit with memories of a lifetime of summers. Run-down yet romantic, the "Big House" stands not only as a cherished reminder of summer's ephemeral pleasures but also as a powerful symbol of a vanishing way of life.
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc This book is a true thing -- a careful opening into the rooms of origin, a meditation on loss and loving, a tender exploration of the mysteries of family. That George Howe Colt is a poet makes us especially lucky to be privy to his keen and generous company. In the fullness of a narrative fantastic with stories of his extraordinary ancestry, he honors what is precious without sentimentality, expresses intimacy without self-absorption, his wisdom rooted in humor and humility. I read it by my father's bedside as he lay dying, and felt safe inside this special book. Even more, I felt the steadying wonder of life. Alec Wilkinson The Big House is about the long, slow separation from the beautiful past -- in this case a shingled house by the ocean, which Colt's ancestors built and his family occupied in the summer for generations. He writes gracefully, with restraint and deep feeling, and his book is a rare accomplishment. Adam Hochschild From the beautiful opening pages onward, you know you are in the hands of a masterful writer -- observant, subtle, eloquent at evoking the memories and feelings that rise up when our adult selves and childhood memories meet. But The Big House is more than that; George Howe Colt brings to life several generations of an entire extended family, and the reader, like someone growing from childhood to adulthood and like the reader of a fine novel, gradually learns that this book's charmed, alluring world is far more complex than it first appears. David Halberstam What a wonderful book. George Howe Colt has taken an original idea -- over four generations a house is a family and a family is a house -- and turned it into an uncommon success, becoming in the process the writer as family archaeologist. It's a book that stands in a line with The Late George Apley and The Proper Bostonians.