The trilogy aspect of this story is that the same story is told by three different characters each with her own perspective of the same period of time Margaret is engaged to be married to man she doesn t love However, lacking the backbone and gumption to take on the life she dreams of, she moves along in the torrent of her mother s enthusiasm for the wedding Mrs Monroe is the soon to be mother in law She sees that the marriage is a mistake but on some levels is relieved to see her middle aged son finally settling down Lilly is visiting from Egypt and is a friend from way back Her narcissistic behavior creates doubt in everyone s minds and brings color to otherwise dull and predictable people s lives While I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Monroe s point of view, Lilly s was fascinating and as I said, Margaret is such a drip, she just made me impatient Well written though so much so, that I wished for a pen to underline certain parts for reference. Oppressively Depressing Got it because someone on NPR loved it.Thanks a lot, NPR. A New York Times Notable BookIn The Summer House Trilogy, Three Very Different Women, With Three Very Distinct Perspectives, Narrate Three Very Witty Novels Concerning One Disastrous Wedding In The Offing The Clothes In The Wardrobe Nineteen Year Old Margaret Feels Trepidation Than Joy At The Prospect Of Her Marriage To Forty Year Old Syl The Skeleton In The Cupboard Syl S Mother, Mrs Monro, Doesn T Know Quite What To Make Of Her Son S Life, But She Knows Margaret Should Not Marry Him The Fly In The Ointment And Then There S Lili, The Free Spirit Who Is Determined That The Wedding Shall Not Happen, No Matter The Consequences I saw the movie first but the book closely follows it The Summer House is a modern Gothic tale made up of all sorts of eccentric characters, with perhaps one of the most bizarrely memorable endings in all literature Read this over ten years ago First heard of Ellis through the literary magazine like catalogue, The Common Reader, which is now defunct, to my very great sorrow.Just thinking about The Summer House makes we want to read the book or watch the movie again Ellis captures all the idiosyncratic behaviors and dialogue of British family and too intimate neighbor life oh so well It s a book almost best appreciated on subsequent readings, but reading the ending first still wouldn t help.Ellis and The Summer House are a treat The 1995 version starring Jeanne Moreau and Joan Plowright NOT the 2009 version. This book is a masterpiece I ve just finished the first book and cannot wait to continue it The writing is superb The first story captures the voice and the essence of a 19 year old Full of that overarching angst, painful self analysis, and inner turmoil of youth There are many paragraphs to savor, reasons for pause and contemplation I had drunk too much and woke in the night knowing I was damned There is nothing to do about being damned I lay in the darkness but my soul lay, the insect s child, washed in endless light Light made me powerless In the dark I could maneuver, hide in the alleys of incomprehension, crouch behind walls of indifference, know that I existed, and hope because I couldn t be seen Only perfection can flower in the light It is eternal and it illuminates despair Hell is the absence of God, the absence even of his shadow Much grief, much pain is experienced in the shadow of God, but despair comes where he is not You can pray, you can say the words, but there is no communion, and you cannot close your eyes Do not let me leave you the impression that this is a dark and depressing novel Au contraire It is an absolute delight Witty and sage The other two tales are narrated by an elderly and a middle aged woman so I am really looking forward to the contrast of their voices.I enjoyed the second and third books too Some people might think the author was too long winded, but I enjoyed it very much.SEMI SPOILER ALERT The ending of the first story was a total surprise That is such a rare gift for an avid reader and I want you to enjoy the experience too Blecchhhh I can t believe I finished reading this book, or that anyone would think it was interesting enough to make a movie out of I hated it to the very last page. This is a fascinating book and I can t recommend it enough for thinking women everywhere It s listed as a Trilogy, but don t be scared It s not so much a trilogy, as three short novellas which are set around the same dreaded wedding.The first novella, The Clothes in the Wardrobe, is absolutely thought provoking and inspiring and a bit surprising Had you attempted to take the book from my hand during this section, I d have simply hit you over the head with it.The second, The Skeleton in the Cupboard, deals with the subject of aging, and facing one s death, and I dog eared approximately 40 pages The author, Ms Ellis, went out of her way to tackle our most challenging topics, and she did so brilliantly I was quite spell bound.The third, The Fly in the Ointment, was the only one I found tedious, and, for me, it was the part of the book that brought my review down from five stars to four I found it redundant and unnecessary, though the writing and intriguing quality of this novel still shine through.Very British, and better than most books If you are a fan of either Graham Greene or Penelope Lively, you will most likely love it. Some may wonder why it took so long for me to finish a book I ve given five stars Sometimes life just gets in the way of pure pleasure, made onlyso because there areto be read I have discovered a buried treasure, Alice Thomas Ellis Margaret is 19 and engaged to Syl who is 46 Syl, Monica, Margaret s mother , and Lili met and became friends while living in Egypt for some years when Margaret was a little girl The Summer House is a trilogy First narrated by Margaret, second by Mrs Munro Syl s mother and lastly by Lili, three very different women tell their story of this farcical marriage to be Three generations, three perceptions of love, life, marriage, sex, relationships, aging, social norms, and I could go on The language is spot on I dare anyone to read this and not recognize some of themselves in one or all of the characters The humor moves from ridiculous to dark to poignant I will read this again with a highlighter as there are too many turns of phrase to leave to my failing memory. I really liked this book I like the way the author structured it She tells a story from three different perspectives The story we follow is the planning of an English wedding This event is the stage that allows us to learnabout the players involved The perspectives are that of the bride herself Margaret the bride s mother in law to be Mrs Munro I can t recall her first name and Lilli, a school friend of the bride s mother The wedding is a mistake Margaret s intended is 20 years her senior and still lives with his mother Margaret feels no love for him and in fact, does not even like him The story unfolds as each perspective shares histories of the past and present, trying to reconcile themselves to a marriage that appears to be wrong As they intersect, they quietly plot to stop the unblessed event The book is written very well and transported me to the modern English countryside The characters were very well drawn I recommend this book highly Don t be put off by the slow beginning that s just Margaret Note this one would be a good one for a book club have individuals read only one section of the trilogy, which at least one member reading all three It would make an even stronger reading impression to experience the impact perspective has on the readers perceptions and sympathies. This is one of my favorite novels by a writer who is not that well known in The United States Alice Thomas Ellis is incredibly gifted with creating characters who intrigues and a plot that unfolds by the narration of three very different women Lili is one of the most magnificent female characters I have come across in fiction in a long time Half English, half Egyptian, half whore and half saint, her voice and her philosophy of life are remarkable I don t want to give away too much of the plot but the trilogy is about a marriage that should not happen and why it should not happen and if it will really happen at all There is Catholicism, child abuse, murder, sex, infidelity and secrets everywhere all in the boring town of Croydon I saw the film which absolutely avoided the book s dark sections and focusedon the sexy side Disappointing This is a novel where you have to pay very careful attention to details and you may have to read it twice I read this once every year.
Alice Thomas Ellis was short listed for the Booker prize for The 27th Kingdom She is the author of A Welsh Childhood autobiography , Fairy Tales and several other novels including The Summerhouse Trilogy, made into a movie starring Jeanne Moreau and Joan Plowright.
- 339 pages
- The Summer House Trilogy (Common Reader Editions)
- Alice Thomas Ellis
- 06 May 2017 Alice Thomas Ellis