On a beautiful sunny Ascension Day I thoroughly enjoyed The House at the Edge of the World. One might conclude that being able to read the novel in one single could say something about its quality. As far as I am concerned The House is not just your average feel good novel, if only for the fact that its main characters are just not nice enough. Morvenna is slightly bitchy, always saying hurtful things, insufficiently sensitive to other people’s needs. Her twin brother Corwin is of and about doing good works, shirking his family responsibilities and their mother got involved with her late husband John’s best friend rather quickly. John’s death is the focal point of the novel. He fell off a cliff while peeing, his body never to be recovered. His death changes family relationships immediately. If only because of the fact that granddad Matthew who never bothered to make up his will land decides to give the family home to his grandchildren. When Corwin starts doubting the true cause of John’s death, Morvenna and he try and find the truth. Corwin by then has been abroad practically all his adult life working for NCO’s; having started to also doubt his profession Corwin has become slightly embittered. Morvenna on the other hand has remained loyal to her passion and has worked as a bookbinder in London for many years. What I loved about the House is that Rochester subtly depicts a group of idealistic young adults and as subtly shows what has become of those ideals. Morvenna, who had no ideals whatsoever, ultimately being the only one whose work is her true passion. Rochester also shows the difficulty in coping with twins. They are inseparable on the one hand, other people condoning the less popular twin on the other hand. If their mother also has a preference, in this instance for Corwin, it might lead to tricky conflicts. Certainly with someone as rude as Morvenna who manages to insult and hurt people all the time. ‘Did you already sleep together when dad was still alive?’ might not be the most tactical to say to your mother at the end of her (second) wedding.
The House at the Edge deals with relationships between people; about honesty and lies whilst dealing with family and friends. Rochester describes their dealings accurately in few well-chosen words. She shows where being part of a family can hurt, and where family remains important despite everything. Rochester had me totally hooked.