I’m so happy to be on the blog tour today for ‘The House That Sat Down’ by Alice May. Sincere thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to Alice, Chaos and Logic for the copy of the omnibus edition, in exchange for my thoughts.
What’s it about?
Inspired by a true story, The House That Sat Down Trilogy is a tale of triumph over tragedy. It is an astonishing account of sudden, first-world homelessness in the heart of the New Forest, and the unexpected consequences.
Written entirely from a mother’s point of view, following the collapse of her family’s home, it is an uplifting and positive read in spite of the subject matter, with a thread of wry humour throughout. Follow this ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey of survival and self discovery as she reels from disaster, before picking herself up and coming back stronger and wiser than before.
Packed with humorous observations about what it is like to live in a tent in your garden with your husband and four children after a significant part of your house falls down out of the blue one day, this story takes you from the depths of despair right through to the satisfying heights of success against the odds, with lots of tea and cakes on the way.
Follow this crazy family as they cope with disaster in their own truly unique and rather mad way, and celebrate each small triumph along the way with them.
In some ways, this review wanted to write itself, and was furiously scribbling itself down in my head while I was reading. Yet, I have given myself enough time and rewrites to hope that I can do this remarkable story justice. I have already written the screenplay, cast it, produced it, edited it and timetabled it for TV, all without the prerequisite skills, experience and contacts to make it so (and thus, regretfully, all in my mind). I hope then, that you can see just how much I loved this book. I gratefully received the omnibus edition, thoughtfully complete with postcards of Alice’s art. The edition comprises ‘Accidental Damage’, ‘Restoration’ and ‘Redemption’. For ease of reference, I have used ‘the book and ‘the story’’ to refer to all three.
The main part of our heroine’s 350 year-old family home in the countryside split open. Wide open. Sufficiently to allow a man and a dog to walk through. Blaming herself entirely, she gave up a part of herself, which, as we can only come to truly appreciate throughout the trilogy, must have been devastating, and the family were thrust into a position that few truly can imagine, living in a borrowed tent in their garden, with the possibility of this being for an indeterminable period.
Luckily, the story was written with the benefit of the passage of time giving much needed perspective, and despite the desperation of this predicament, this is one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve ever read, gently acerbic, wonderfully witty, with a huge heart. And a skeleton. Not in a cupboard. I’ll come back to him later.
With a cast of tremendous characters; Beloved Husband, Chaos, Logic, Quiet, Small, Skelly, Various Builders, The Insurance People and Some Genuine Experts, our heroine transitions from despair, through grim acceptance, to hope, some journeys back and forth between them all, and then to a level of personal fulfilment, which would not have happened without the events back in 2014.
Which leads to the book. She is an artist, and this is a clear case of art begetting art. The cathartic voyage through painting from beginning to end is mesmerising, and the book being written is an extension of that extremely capable, intelligent artistic ability. It’s an absolute joy; a stream of thought masterpiece. The omnibus is a Big Book, and I worried I hadn’t left myself enough time to complete it, although I shouldn’t have been concerned. This is not a book to skim read; it is worth reading every sentence.
I’m plucking something out of my dim and distant memory, which is going to require a brief google. Please bear with me one moment…
Yes, erm… Picasso said, (fingers crossed this is true) “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”. This works well on so many levels in this story, and in ‘Redemption’, our heroine reflects on the silver linings, the opportunities created, the self-reaffirmation and the blessing which is her family.
And yes, here we are on the book tour. I couldn’t recommend this more highly. It is not purely a self-indulgent exercise. It has the potential to speak to so many people who are, or have been, sailing in a similar boat. I live in Doncaster, and we have recently seen dreadful flooding, with many people facing lengthy separation from their family homes. They are at the despair/grim acceptance phase. Stories like this could make a real difference.
I’ll conclude on a lighter note… If Alice May ever feels like a further foray into fiction, I would like to take this opportunity to ask for the main protagonist to be Skelly. I can’t help thinking he would have a tale or two to tell.
P.S. I’m leaving the recipes lying around the place, just in case any of my four Barbarians take the hint….
Buy the book (you won’t regret it):
About the author:
I am a multi-tasking parent to four not-so-small children, and I am fortunate enough to be married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. We live in, what used to be, a ramshackle old cottage in the country. Our house began to fall down out of the blue one day, which resulted in the whole family living in a tent in the back garden for quite some time, while we worked out how to rebuild our home.
A few years afterwards, I decided to write a book and, once I started, I found I couldn’t stop.
Inspired by true-life events ‘Accidental Damage – tales from the house that sat down’ wouldn’t leave me alone until it was written.
Within six months of self-publishing my novel, I was delighted to learn that it had won two ‘Chill with a Book Awards’. This was a massive honour and motivated me to continue writing. Accidental Damage became the first book in a trilogy.
The Omnibus edition of all three books in the House That Sat Down Trilogy is now available via Amazon in both paperback and kindle format
To connect with Alice:
This is, of course, a book tour, and there are other wonderful perspectives on ‘The House That Sat Down’ for you to read. Please see the tour banner below x