Title: In My House
Author: Alex Hourston
Published by: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 21st May 2015
Length: 304 pages
Source: ARC from Faber & Faber (Thank you!)
Find the book on Goodreads
Find the book on Goodreads
'Maggie lives a life of careful routines and measured pleasures. But everything changes when, walking through Gatwick a few days shy of her fifty-eighth birthday, a young woman approaches her and whispers a single word: ‘Help.’ Maggie responds, and in that moment saves a stranger, earning Anja her freedom and ensuring the arrest of a brutal trafficker.
But when the story gets picked up by the papers, Margaret is panicked by the publicity, as well as the strange phone calls she begins to receive.
Meanwhile Anja makes contact. She wants to thank her rescuer, but quickly insinuates herself into Maggie’s life.
As her relationship with Anja intensifies, Maggie begins to reveal, in increments, what it is she has been hiding. As a picture of her past takes shape, we are drawn into a slippery moral maze in which every choice is compromised. Maggie’s account is faithful, but she will keep you guessing about what really happened until the very end.'
I'll be honest - this book surprised me, not in a shock-horror kind of way, but in a gentle, heart-felt way - in a way that's left me thinking about the characters and their lives hours after finishing the book. I can't seem to stop - all I want to do is pick the book up again, because I've become so connected to the characters, as if they've crept up on me while I was reading, and become lodged in my brain.
The writing style reminded me very much of Mitch Albom - but gentler, and with much more of a distinct voice for the protagonist, Maggie, making it all the more a pleasure to read.
I won't spoil too much of the book - which is hard, because I feel like to truly explain why I really like this book, I need to tell you about the story and how well it's told - so I'll try and keep it as detailed as I can without spoiling too much.
The book itself centres around the character of Maggie, a woman in her 50s, who by even a few pages into the book, you can't help connecting with. Even when, later on in the novel, there were a few things that made my stomach churn a bit (her child braking her arm, that's all I'm going to say) - Hourston almost makes the novel a character study, if anything else other than a good mystery and novel. You can really understand Maggie, by the end of the book, even with her flaws - and even though some readers may not sympathise entirely, you understand her, and whys he did what she did, and really feel like she is a person, and that, to me, is the mark of great storytelling.
The plot itself is gripping - especially with the added elements of Maggie's past that really, for me, made the book 1000% better. If anything, I think their should've been a few more! and an epilogue - but then that's what sequels are for, right? ;) But honestly, I think the book, as it is, is one that you may think will be a light, easy mystery read, but by the end of the book, I think you'll feel it was quite a bit more than that. By the end of the book, actually - I'd almost forgot it was a mystery! I was so invested in Maggie's life. But then all was revealed - and I couldn't have guessed it in a million years.
I also loved the relationship between Anja and Maggie, in particular. I felt that scenes with both characters together became more vivid, as if they were made to be written about as a pair. I was actually really impressed by how well Hourston can weave characters together like Anja and Maggie - they seem like polar opposites, but by the end of the novel, it felt as if they were always had been, and to be life long friends (I hope they are).
Overall, I think this was a compelling debut that really explores relationships and humanity, and I can't wait to see what Hourston writes next!
❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️