Perhaps out of all art forms, only storytelling manages a direct connection to our psyche, lighting up our imaginations and bonding with the collective consciousness of all the characters we read about; and by sharing their trials and triumphs, as we would with each other.
In author Deborah L. Norris’s novel, ‘The House Guest: Pathway to Persuasion’ she narrates the story of a woman, Maggie Anderson Davis, a middle aged widow who lives with her daughter Jenna in an old Victorian style mansion. The many regulars and newcomers who frequent this home bring with them tales of their own, to narrate, to share, and to find absolution. But we soon find out that most of these tales are triggered by Maggie’s memory and we strive to understand her better, to see what she has seen and felt. Deborah’s writing reflects all the joys of good old fashioned storytelling, of making up fantasy, of creating this illusion of seeing ourselves in each of the characters. The House Guest is a novel with multiple layers of wonderful stories combined together to create one amazing novel.
At the beginning of each chapter, the weather changes have been described in detail, almost as a precursor to what we can expect from the rest of the chapter. A string of company keeps dropping by at the old manor house, each bringing with them a personal anecdote or a shared collection of history with Maggie. It’s tough to explain or extrapolate to someone who hasn’t read the book what the The House Guest is all about, because Deborah has very cleverly incorporated a dream like element to her story telling and just like dreams, to appreciate it better or to see the beauty in them, one has to experience the dream for themselves and to appreciate The House Guest better, one has to experience it for themselves and shouldn’t really depend on someone else’s description of it. This novel sometimes reminds you of a late afternoon soap opera with its warm and interesting central character holding fort and a host of satellite and recurring characters who come together to provide a thoroughly emotional experience.
The House Guest tells a beautiful story in a normal sort of a way. Love is woven around everyday affairs you do around the house. There is an innate simplicity to the way the entire book is narrated, from its setting, the interaction amongst the characters to even the author’s prose, a uniquely simplified and yet classical quality to it. Deborah L. Norris has a pleasing voice that gently guides the reader throughout the various troughs and crests one gets to experience in Maggie’s life. After reading a lot of novels where the plot and action moved at break neck speed, it was nice to be able to sink in to The House Guest’s casual but pulsating pacing, showcasing the wonderfulness of everyday casual life that only a deeper introspection can reveal. She has a courageous voice that easily juggles fun and seriousness brilliantly. The conversation pieces between Lee and Anna provide more than enough proof to this effect. Deborah’s narration has this fly on the wall way of describing events, which effortlessly transports you to the world within the pages.
The House Guest is one of those books you are going to store away in your personal library and reread as and when you feel the urge to spend some quality personal reading time. The beautiful and shocking end will make you go through the book several times trying to rediscover the many subtle but obvious clues strewn throughout which all adds up once you’ve gotten to the climax. And as soon as the last page comes to a close you are going to start missing the screen door shutting at the back porch of Maggie’s home and the kitchen door swinging open, which opened up a world to you that had to be experienced firsthand to be believed.
- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Outskirts Press (May 29, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1478733446
- ISBN-13: 978-1478733447