Cover Image: A House for Alice

A House for Alice

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Member Reviews

This was a really good book, I was completely hooked from the first page and stayed up way to maye reading because I couldn't put it down definitely recommend
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This was a DNF for me. I’ve tried several times over the last couple months but have failed to make it past the 30% mark. This story deals with grief, something I’ve personally had to deal with recently, and it was still too morose for me to handle. It seems well-written, and may well pick up later on, but I just can’t get through it to find out. You may have far better luck than me, if this book’s summary appeals to you.

Thank you Diana Evans, Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor, and NetGalley for providing this ARC for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.
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A House for Alice by Diana Evans was a filled with beautiful writing that at times was poetic, as if that was her preferred medium. What seemed like a great storyline got bogged down with the insane amount of characters. I had a hard time with that.
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The story begins with two tragedies- nonagenarian Cornelius Winston Pitt eager to live to see his one-hundredth birthday breathes his last after a fire engulfs his home. A fire in a high-rise residential apartment in West London on the same night left several residents homeless and many dead.

In the aftermath of Cornelius’ death, his estranged wife Alice and her three daughters Adel, Carol, and Melissa are left to grapple with their loss. Alice hopes to leave London and return to her native country Nigeria where she is building a home. As the story progresses, we meet Alice’s children and their families and how they cope with the death in their family and Alice’s impending plans to leave – old wounds, resentments, and disappointments rise to the surface and what is left to be seen is whether the family is brought closer or does tragedy and loss tear them further apart.

A House for Alice by Diana Evans is a well-written story that revolves around themes of family, tragedy, and how the definition of home can change over time. The story is set in 2017 and incorporates the real-life tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London in the narrative and explores socio-political themes and topics like immigration, culture and racism. I should mention, I was unaware that this story was a sequel ( of sorts ) to one of the author’s previous works. My review is based on my experience with this book alone. There are several characters we need to keep track of, and it is often difficult to keep note of how they are related to one another. While I did like the writing and the character development, I was somewhat disappointed with the way the story flowed. I also found the short segment on Cornelius’ afterlife experience a tad disjointed with the overall narrative. The story is more about the family, the dynamics between the family members and though we go get a glimpse into Alice’s yearning to return to her native country could have been explored in more depth. Overall, I thought that the story had potential but was not as emotionally impactful as I hoped.

Many thanks to Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, Anchor and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This novel was published on September 12, 2023.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Beautiful novel about an older woman who becomes a widow while separated from her husband. Her journey to find a place for herself is intertwined with the stories of her children.
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A House for Alice is contemporary fiction in the vein of post colonial works. It begins with several individuals who are seemingly unconnected and whose stories are woven together through sadness and location. I was engaged in most of the characters’ situations and enjoyed throughout.
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I really enjoyed A House for Alice. I was worried by all of the reviews critical of her character development and confusing plot but none of that bothered me. I found that if you just let the story unfold and went along for the ride without trying to hold on to rigidly to who everything was that the story unfolded in a really special and unique way. Recommend.
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To put it simply, Diana Evans is a wonderfully talented writer and I’m so happy I discovered this book. Her prose is poetic and deep, with every line revealing an intimate detail about the character’s thoughts and motivations. I’ve never highlighted so many passages in a book before and even after finishing this yesterday, I keep going back to reread some of my favorite quotes. I could not put this book down!

The story is about the the relationship between a mother and her children as they navigate their life after their husband/father’s death in London. The three sisters have a close yet strained relationship as they try to manage their own complicated lives as well as deciding how to help their mother, Alice, enter the next phase of her life. The story focuses on Melissa, the youngest sister, and her relationships with her ex-husband, Michael, and children. I found the dynamic between Michael and Nicole (his wife) to be very interesting, particularly Michael’s struggle with loving two people, who bring out two different sides of him.

I also found Alice’s story heartbreaking as I read about her hopes of a new life in London after moving to Nigeria, only for that to be crushed in a loveless relationship. Reading about her dreams and struggle to move back to Nigeria in her final years really moved me. She is such a dynamic character and the author does a great job showing her conflicted feelings toward her life in the UK and her relationship with her daughters and husband.

The ability to make leftovers in a freezer and the killing of a spider sound poetic just speaks to the author’s beautiful talent with words, which you can see here: 

"Alice went quickly to her freezer, her city of ice, the chicken in reserve, the random renditions of rice (puddings, jollof).” 

“Wasps flew in through the skylights and smashed against the ceiling fan, spiders nestled in the sloping corners, when they ventured out she faced them with an upside-down cup and a postcard, the way Michael used to do. Arachnophobia was for lovers, a luxury.”

I found it easy to keep up with the introduction of new characters throughout the book, due to the the author’s talent of being able to create such distinct personalities, while avoiding boxing characters into stereotypes with cookie-cutter likes and dislikes. I love when I think I can predict what a character will think/do next and they surprise me with a thought or viewpoint that I didn’t expect from them. This books portrays how we all have several sides to us and shows us how we pick and choose what we want to show depending on who we’re with. The characters are so rich and I felt like I knew them personally. I’m still thinking about them and I look forward to reading Ordinary People, the book that precedes A House for Alice.

There were many times when I had to set the book down and reflect on a passage that I had just read. It is rare for me to be so deeply moved by a book, a book that puts feelings into words, feelings which I’ve never been able to clearly express myself. I adored this book and I’m a new fan of Diana Evans. 

Thank you to the author, Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage & Anchor, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy so I can provide an honest review.
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Apparently, this may be a sequel of sorts to another novel with similar characters, so that may have been part of the reason I was at times wondering who all these characters were and why they were in the novel.  The novel is compelling, the prose engaging, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first half more than the second, and that may have been because I expected a few more details about who, if anyone, was ripping off Alice, whose children and now dead husband had been sending money to Nigeria so she could return to her home and have a house built.

The family dynamics kept the novel moving forward.  At times, the novel is quite funny. Alice, the mother, is a character.  There's much to observe about the realities of cultural and generational differences, marriage-the good, bad, and ugly, and grief.  Overall, I enjoyed the novel.
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Just before his 100th birthday, a man dies in a fire. He has been estranged from most of the family, his wife Alice having long moved out. One daughter has been caring for him, but all the daughters carry the trauma of his alcoholic abuse.

For years, he had been sending money to Nigeria to build Alice a house there. Alice knows the time is soon coming when she will be tired, of life, and of life in London and ready to return to her homeland to live her last years there.

Her daughters don’t all agree with her. With their messy lives, divorces, and problem children, they want their mother near. To care for her. To be their center.

A House for Alice touches on so many themes: a dysfunctional family and family trauma, the challenges of marriage and its failure, racism, the refugee experience, the love for a child, failing a child, failing oneself, the view from old age.

I loved how the author took me into these character’s messy lives, the poignant insights into their struggles. I marveled at descriptive passages of such beauty. The chapter describing the morning divorced parents take their son to the hospital for surgery was so beautiful, so real, the experience transforming for the parents. With this combination of insight, gorgeous writing, and social commentary it’s a must read.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
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I love how the author brings in the Grenfell Tower tragedy as a central basis for this sprawling, multi-cultural family drama, and how perfectly she captures the diction and delivery of dementia suffering Cornelius Pitt, and that of his wife Alice from Benin. Their three grown daughters Adel, Melissa and Carol and their respective children, partners, friends and exes complete a cast so compelling I simply could not put this book down. The house in the title is being built in Africa, but with obstructions involving emotions, financing, trauma, construction, and social mores. Birth order, adverse childhood experiences, classed-, gendered-, and racialized-inequities all come into play in this novel's deeply engrossing plot. I love how some decisions are followed through on, while others are reverted, just like in real life. 

There are many memorable lines here but this is one of my favorites: Mother love is instruction. It never ends, it is the longest love in the world.
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A well written book that handles a very sensitive subject perfectly.  The tragedy it is based n touched many people and the author as very sensitive to this.
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This book opens with two tragedies and hooked me from the beginning. While I had some trouble keeping the characters straight, and didn't remember them as much as I would have liked from Evans prior work, I still really enjoyed A House for Alice. The beginning was the strongest part for me, but I do recommend this read!
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A House for Alice by Diana Evans is a brilliantly written book. She uses a stunning lyrical prose to create memorable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in these characters' worlds.
The writing is remarkably evocative, skillfully captivating and straight up engaging.
A sweeping and captivating story from the very beginning.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own." 

Thank You NetGalley and Knopf, Pantheon, Vintage, and Anchor for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!
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Unfortunately this book did not captivate me at all, I just learned through reading reviews that it is part of a series which I did not realize.  It was a essentially a family drama that began when the father died in a house fire which was the house where they all grew up.  No one was living there anymore except him because the children are grown and Alice, his wife had moved out years ago.  Alice dreams of a home in her home country where she can live out her years.

I can’t say too much about the plot because I’m sure what it was.  The book meanders into too many characters’ stories and I found myself skimming much just to finish. While I feel that the ultimate theme is that none of the children nor Alice found that house to be a home and left them all somewhat lost, I found that the story got lost in the telling of their story.  While the ending was a little interesting I didn’t enjoy the journey to get there.

2.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Pantheon for the ARC for review
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Yes this is a sequel of sorts to Ordinary People but only because it plays off several of the characters, notably Melissa .  This is the story of a family, of a longing for home, of dissatisfaction. It pings between the characters and all over the place.  I wanted very much to like it but it was a challenge.   Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  It's not a pretty or happy story but it's a thoughtful one.
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Beautiful cover,so well written characters that drew me in to their lives their family.Didn’t realize it was a series but will now go back and read the first.A book that left me with a lot to think about.#netgalley #ahouseforalice.
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A challenging book that discusses the difficulties women go through in the patriarch and the way to break the cycle.
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First off, I'm obsessed with the cover of this book! It's so beautiful and fit's perfectly with the contents of the story. I also truly loved the character development and relationship between them. I didn't read the first book in this series, I didn't know this was a sequel so the beginning felt a little rushed and I was left trying to piece a few things together. But once I did, I really loved it. 

Thank you, NetGalley and Pantheon Books for allowing me to review this book.
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A House for Alice by Diana Evans was a beautifully written novel about what it means to live in a country founded off of the oppression of your peoples. The novel opens with two fires - the house fire that led to the death of white patriarch Cornelius Pitt and the fire of Grenfell Tower which led to the deaths of over 70 residents, none of who received proper justice. Alice, Cornelius's estranged wife, has spent years living in diaspora, preserving her own culture in a foreign country and longing to be laid to rest at home in Nigeria. The novel follows Alice's journey home in addition to the lives of her daughters Melissa, Carol, and Adel and others close to them. The primary subjects of this novel include diaspora, systemic oppression, colonialism, grief, family, and healing.

While the prose of the novel was stunning, the many changes in point of view and introduction of different characters was a bit disorienting. In addition, it was hard to grasp a sense of time throughout the novel, as time skips were common but not explicitly described. Only after about halfway through the novel did I feel a confident grasp on each of the different characters, their storylines, and how to track shifts in perspective. I do feel that this book had a lot of brilliant insights, but at least at the beginning, I could have grasped them better if these different shifts were easier to follow.

In terms of what I loved, Evans did a masterful job of using food as a way to describe the values of each of the characters. The contrast between Cornelius's pork pie, Alice's akara, and Carol's veganism gave the reader a great sense of each individual through the use of artful, creative description. Alice, Melissa, and Michael were all standout characters as well - Alice's deep sense of feeling ungrounded, Melissa's complicated experience of trauma and desire to heal, and Michael's profound sense of oppression provided fantastic lines that broadened my own perspectives of the intergenerational effects of colonialism.

In all, being an American, while the nuances of British politics were relatively foreign to me - this book broadened and deepened my understanding of how colonialism impacts modern day societies, specifically in countries that were founded off of oppression and conquering. Diana Evans delivers stunning lines and paragraphs that make the reader feel deeply attuned to each of her characters and the different struggles that they all face. I love novels that inhabit my mind to broaden my understanding of the world and the lives of different individuals, and Diana Evans succeeded in this aspect.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Pantheon Books for the opportunity to read this digital advanced reader copy.
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