The first book I finished while on vacation was Margot Livesey’s The House on Fortune Street, completed while I was somewhere between New York City and Fort Lauderdale. I’d guess over North Carolina maybe?
If you couldn’t tell by my excessive amount of posting about this book last week, I found myself really into it. The book tells the story of the inhabitants of a house on Fortune Street and those close to them, though the house turns out to not be so fortunate after all.
Livesey divides the novel into four parts, each told from a different character’s perspective. This is a literary device that works better in some cases than in others. Jodi Piccoult does it all the time and usually does it well. Anita Shreve did it in Testimony, but there were so many characters and so many perspectives that I found it hard to keep track of them all. In The House on Fortune Street, the different perspectives work together perfectly. None of them tell the exact same story, but they overlap in order to shed light on the events that unfold. Each section also gives a really engaging and insightful look into that specific character. At times it made me uncomfortable, but in the end I understood the character a little better and why things turned out the way they did.
In addition to the main plot, each section also introduced an element of British literary tradition (in case you haven’t read this post, this post or this post of mine). I really enjoyed that these well-established stories and figures were interwoven into the characters’ lives and I felt it added another layer to the story.
This book may have told four somewhat separate stories, but even as it moved from one to the other I found that I couldn’t put it down.