What's in a Name Challenge

REVIEW: The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey

The House on Fortune Street
Author: Margot Livesey
Kindle edition

Goodreads Synopsis: It seems like mutual good luck for Abigail Taylor and Dara MacLeod when they meet at St. Andrews University and, despite their differences, become fast friends. Years later they remain an unlikely pair. Abigail, an actress who confidently uses her charms both on- and offstage, believes herself immune to love. Dara, a counselor, is convinced that everyone is inescapably marked by childhood; she throws herself into romantic relationships with frightening intensity. Yet now each seems to have found “true love”—another stroke of luck?—Abigail with her academic boyfriend, Sean, and Dara with a tall, dark violinist named Edward, who literally falls at her feet. But soon after Dara moves into Abigail’s downstairs apartment, trouble threatens both relationships, and their friendship.

For Abigail it comes in the form of an anonymous letter to Sean claiming that she’s been unfaithful; for Dara, a reconciliation with her distant father, Cameron, who left the family when Dara was ten, reawakens complicated feelings. Through four ingeniously interlocking narratives—Sean’s, Cameron’s, Dara’s, and Abigail’s—we gradually understand how these characters’ lives are shaped by both chance and determination. Whatever the source, there is no mistaking the tragedy that strikes the house on Fortune Street.

“Everyone,” claims Abigail, “has a book or a writer who’s the key to their life.” As this statement reverberates through each of the narratives, Margot Livesey skillfully reveals how luck—good and bad—plays a vital role in our lives, and how the search for truth can prove a dangerous undertaking. Written with her characteristic elegance and wit, The House on Fortune Street offers a surprisingly provocative detective story of the heart.

I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but I added it to my Goodreads to-read list a couple of months ago and figured I could use for the What’s In A Name? Challenge.  Anyway, I think this synopsis is misleading because I definitely didn’t think this was about Dara and Abigail when it began; the first point of view is Sean’s (he’s Dara’s boyfriend). It moved to Dara’s father Cameron next, then Dara and finally Abigail.

Each POV is unique and tells a story about that particular person but there are definite overlaps between each story.  Generally, they cover similar timelines.  At one point all but Dara’s POV cover the same situation. Each POV is definitely focused on him or herself yet they are all tied together in someway, with Dara being the common denominator.

I feel like Sean’s POV is probably more of a look from the outside.  We meet Abigail and Dara through Sean and see that he’s a decent guy, but he has his own problems and worries.  I actually expected something to happen between him and Dara, and probably would have welcomed it.  The end of Sean’s POV is what threw me off and made me realize the book was hitting more serious topics that I didn’t know would happen.  Even though Sean was Abigail’s boyfriend, I still think of Dara as the theme in each POV.  (I don’t want to give anything away, so please excuse my vague writing).

Cameron’s POV was interesting but also slightly uncomfortable to read.

Dara’s POV was interesting since I got to understand the person tying these other people together.  But I still feel that someone should have picked up on the clues.

Even after learning more about Abigail through her own POV at the end, I really didn’t like her character. Granted, I saw her through Sean and Dara’s POVs before I read hers so I had a negative opinion of her going into it, but she really didn’t redeem herself in my eyes.  Also, the statement mentioned in the synopsis was never claimed by Abigail; her grandfather said it, she just repeated it to someone.

I’m disappointed in the situation that I alluded to earlier and even more disappointed in the main characters that were so wrapped up in their own lives that they didn’t see the warning signs.  But then again, I suppose that’s how it happens in life too.

I kind of expected a lighter read, and was surprised at a few of the deep, serious issues that were showcased.  Maybe I only added this to my Goodreads list because I needed a book that had a type of house in the title for the challenge.  (I think I need to start keeping a record of where I pick up titles to remind me why I added it to my list!).  In any case, I’ve read this and I’m left wondering exactly how I should feel about it.

Have you read this?  Please share your thoughts!


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