House of Serenity by Susan Shaw
Published 2008 by Thorpe, 418 pages
Found on the Large Print shelves at SHAW
This is the story of one individual: central and irreplaceable. But, and it’s a very big ‘but’ – the author cleverly surrounds her with a variety of characters. Each becomes vital to the emotional entanglements that arise. These occur very naturally, when the basic scene becomes settled. Quickly, we find that each person involved plays an irreplaceable and exciting part within.
The central character is not a ‘spider’, but rather a chrysalis opening and growing as each of her dependants develop. Some, to a wonderful blossoming, and others to the inevitable consequences of their escape from bondage.
Emily, the central person in this marvellous presentation of a variety of characterisations, brings wholly and irrevocably to life the persons (and personalities) needed to develop the whole story. Near perfect – and I say ‘near perfect’ because this is not a story of perfection, but a story of escapes. These develop in such a way that you, the reader (and I mean you, your inner self), will be caused to say: “Oh! Why? He/she shouldn’t have done that, or perhaps: She should have done that…”
“This or that” is of no importance to this author. This author knows where and how these marvellous and intriguing characterisations, with their personalities – plain ordinary people, just like you and me – are to seek in their own way the strands (nay, the filaments) of human escape from within the web of life, in situ.
No, Emily is not the master of the future. She is wise, but, experienced as she is, she does her best…
Success and failure come and go – each character escapes, within their own terms. You can see that I believe in Emily and I rhapsodise about her, for she is exactly what she is. However this is for you the reader to find out…but beware: this book is not for everyone.
The other people introduced do not confound this escape story. They are real people, and they enter peacefully and disruptively into life. Life as it should have been, or never was and never will be.
Unwanted daughters, deserted husbands and hoped-for babies are brought to life in the most vivid way. Yet it is all natural. Feminism and other issues raise their heads and roar! I will not divulge more. The selfish and arrogant male is exposed in all ugliness. The weak spineless young girl, and the hopeless, devastating parent – all are shown or exposed without apology…
There are no heroes…here are non-heroes…they are the fallen. All there, wriggling humanity, with their varying strengths; their capacity of escape. Yet here is David held back by his past. Possibly there is another, a well-known and rational person: reality or fiction? Which is the character that you have never even thought about? Which, if you dare? This author throws down the gauntlet. Escape from that, if you dare….
Read on if you care.
House of Serenity, read honestly, will astound you. Here, the heroine herself submissive, finally takes her future in her hands. Emily literally breaks out and becomes – but that is for you to read about. I can guarantee that you will hate Howard. Not so Rachael, or Karen, and…who knows? But not Harry. This Author writes to you. Writes: Where we might be. Have been? Never!….Never?
Lucky you. To have never, never, never considered (or wanted) to escape. And yet, THIS is fiction…? I should not say this, but – and it’s a big ‘BUT’, you will love the ending (no peeking).
Reviewed by : George Conygham
George entered our monthly Book Review Competition which is just one of our Love 2 Read National Year of Reading 2012 activities. While he didn’t win this time, his entry was still very interesting.
Would you like to enter a book review for this month? Please email a 400-600 word review of a fiction or non-fiction book, with the June theme of ‘Dream’, to: firstname.lastname@example.org , along with your name, library card number and contact phone number, by the last Friday of the month. Good luck!