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The Children's House - Alice Nelson

Paperback Published: 1st October 2018
ISBN: 9780143791188
Number Of Pages: 304

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Reminiscent of Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn , this is a breakthrough novel from a humane and perceptive writer exploring the traumas that divide families and the love and hope that creates them.

A love song to the idea of families in all their mysteries and complexities, their different configurations and the hope that creates them.

Marina and her husband, Jacob, were each born on a kibbutz in Israel. They meet years later at a university in California, when Jacob is a successful psychiatrist with a young son, Ben, from a disastrous marriage. The family moves to a brownstone in Harlem, formerly a convent inhabited by elderly nuns.

Outside the house one day Marina encounters Constance, a young refugee from Rwanda, and her toddler, Gabriel. Unmoored and devastated, Constance and Gabriel quickly come to depend on Marina; and her bond with the little boy intensifies. The pure, blinding love that it is possible to feel for children not our own is the thread that weaves through The Children’s House.

When Marina learns some disturbing news about her long-disappeared mother, Gizela, she leaves New York in search of the loose ends of her life. As Christmas nears, her tight-knit, loving family, along with Constance and Gabriel, join Marina in her mother's former home, with a startling consequence, an act that will transform all of their lives forever.

Alice Nelson skilfully weaves together these shared stories about the terrible things humans are capable of into a beautifully told, hope-filled novel exploring the profound consolations that we can find in each other.

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BANAL and INSIPID

1

Well, there I was nursing a pain in my guts that turned out to be cancer (yes, that part's true!) watching the 'cookie cutter', Western Suburbs' marionettes air-kiss their way into the plush, wood-panelled room. Dainty sandwiches, cups of tea in pale-blue Limoges (more of that later) with tea leaves all the way from Mariage Freres in Paris (more of that later, too) and, well… you can imagine the rest. This was the book-launch for Alice Nelson's, "The Children's House" and the 'pitch' was interesting to say the least; on the occasions when I dropped my eyes to ponder exactly what was happening in my stomach I really couldn't tell if it were Alice Nelson speaking or her literary doppelganger and muse, Brenda Walker. Each word weighed and measured; each word sanded smooth using the finest-grade Ethiopian sand-paper purchased from Barney Bill's in Harlem (that part's not true); each word dipped in bronze before, quietly and oh so elegantly, being tossed like a pink petal among the linen-clad literati. Rounded and beautifully enunciated vowels at 30 paces, okay? "The Children's House" is yet another University English Department 'House' Novel written by/for/with the assistance of the genteel flaneurs (female, predominantly) whose 'beat' consists almost entirely of hushed academic corridors. I'm sure it will sell extraordinarily well. The BLWSBC & LPS (Blue Limoges Western Suburbs Book Club and Lemon Peel Society) will love it! But, believe me baby… that 'aint no recommendation.

Perth, WA

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"Alice Nelson has written that rare kind of novel that sets off sparks in the mind long after finishing. A book of unwavering intelligence that probes the most haunted parts of the psyche, Nelson circumnavigates trauma without succumbing to the temptation to dispel it. The Children’s House is an elegant and finely tuned work that hums with condensed life. ”
Stephanie Bishop

“ Art at its highest. A work of subtle power, it is a brave and original exploration of human complexity and vulnerability; a tale of loss and reparation. Both fierce and tender, it is a story of melancholy beauty. ”
Leah Kaminsky

“ A full and wise creation of love and character by an expert storyteller. ”
Brenda Walker

“ What a heartbreakingly beautiful, thought-provoking novel. At its heart are two unknowable, deeply damaged mothers - Gizela and Constance; and their offspring - Marina and Gabriel, who connect in a most unexpected and complicated way. To go into detail about the plot would be to do the book a disservice. It's driven more by a meditation on that one commonality that we all share - regardless of race, sex or religion - we are all some mother's child. And we have all been shaped (for good or ill) by that simple truth. If you've never been mothered, can you learn to mother ? Can it be taught by others ? Can someone else fill that role in your life ? Can you leave your past behind ? So many ideas. So much heart. I loved this book !
Helen Atkinson

ISBN: 9780143791188
ISBN-10: 0143791184
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Random House Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.6  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.38

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