September 23, 2008

House and Home- A Review, An Interview & a Giveaway

House & Home by Kathleen McCleary is the story of Ellen Flanagan, who is the mother of 2 young girls, owner of a coffee and home decor shop and who is divorcing her husband. You get the feeling that Ellen is not quite convinced that she wants this divorce but feels obligated to get it after her husband risks & loses everything they have on an invention that doesn't do well. While she seems upset about the loss of her marriage, it pales in comparison to her hysteria over losing her beloved home. You find out that she would rather see her home destroyed than to have some other family living there among her memories. Through it all, Ellen discovers what is really important in life and leaves you wanting to hug your family a little bit tighter.

This book alternates between being hilarious and heartbreaking, but is always touching. It is very well written and I felt like I would love to have the main character (as well as her best friend) as my friends. I was especially drawn to the cozy Cape Cod described in the story. Her description of the house made me want to curl up in a corner of it with a cup of cocoa and a quilt. I very much enjoyed Kathleen McCleary's writing style and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

An Interview with Kathleen McCleary:

What style house do you currently live in?

My current house is a 1957 brick house that I guess I'd describe as a cross between a Cape Cod and a bungalow. It's a combination of old, recycled brick and cream-colored clapboard siding. We've been removing wallpaper and painting and updating since we moved in four years ago. The house has beautiful oak floors throughout, and a lot of windows, and is vaguely Arts and Crafts style on the inside. I'm hoping to save enough money to one day redo my daughters' bathroom, which still has the original 1950s chartreuse tile, tub and sink.


How would you describe your decorating style?

I'd say my style is colorful, fresh, uncluttered, and informal. I enjoy strong colors (one wall in my living room is a rich butter yellow; the kitchen is sky blue; our bedroom is in cream, red, and brown) and I love clean, simple lines. (Here's a photo of one of my favorite spaces in my house, the fireplace and mantel in my living room:

The Swedish artist Carl Larsson is a favorite decorating inspiration. I used the red and cream color scheme in his bedroom once in my living room:

If there was a fire in your house what 3 things (aside from family and pets) would you save?

I really had to think about this. Family photos aside, I'd probably grab my quilts (my great aunt Nell was a quilter and I have four or five beautiful quilts that she sewed in the 1920s); the painting over our mantel, by Oregon artist Judith Cunningham; and finally a portrait in my dining room that my eldest daughter painted of my youngest daughter. It captures her perfectly. They're all things that would be impossible to replace.

I have many things in common with the main character Ellen. We are both married to biomedical engineers, have 2 daughters, don't drink coffee and are house obsessed. Do you think that was a coincidence?!

I believe so, unless I've been channeling you in my sleep! It's funny because another blogger, Lisa at Books on the Brain, had a lot in common with Ellen, too. And I've had several women at various book signings tell me that THEIR lives were just like Ellen's. I hope that means that Ellen's feelings and experiences are somewhat universal.

Do you know what you will write about next and if so will a house be central to the story?

There are several great houses in my second book, but none are as central to the story as the little yellow house is to House & Home. I hope to finish writing this book by the end of the year. It's the story of a woman who gets so overwhelmed by what she perceives as the negative cultural influences affecting her school-age children that she decides to move them all to a remote island off the coast of Washington state to live without shopping malls, cell phones or traffic lights for a year. It's been a real adventure to write and research. But I love houses and believe that our environments influence us tremendously and say a lot about who we are, so houses play a key role in the book. Besides, it's just fun to imagine intriguing rooms and houses and describe them!

Leave a comment here telling me about what kind of house you wish you live in by midnight September 25th and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book!

44 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book, perfect for cozying up to as the tempatures drop!

    If I could choose any house to live in I would have to say a small cottage in the country. Not so much different from my current home.

    What would you choose?

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  2. Oh great job! I can't wait to read that book!!

    I would either want to live in this house all fixed up perfectly or in a big farm house on the river with a pecan orchard. Either will do!

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  3. i wish i lived in a cozy little cottage by the sea!!

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  4. I've been hankerin' to live in a log cabin... but an "open concept" log cabin- not too many rooms or dividing walls. Cozy, but not claustraphobic.

    Could be because my grandparents built two log cabins many, many, MANY years ago in Alaska. All by their lonesomes.

    Sigh.

    Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

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  5. I love my current home, also a cozy Cape Cod, but I think i would also like a house on the water.

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  6. That book looks awesome! Can't wait to go check it out.

    Home I would love to live in, would have to be a cozy home on the North Carolina Outerbanks overlooking the water. No neighbors, just peace and quiet. We would go for walks on the beach every afternoon before dinner while the sun sets. On the weekends go into town for some shopping and ice cream. I picture it decorated like Diane Keaton's house in "Something's Gotta Give", minus Jack Nicholson!

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  7. That sounds like a great book! I would love to have a cozy little cottage close to the water - either Lake Michigan or somewhere in Maine, both places that I love! I do love our little house now - it has so much charm and we've slowly been working to get it where we want. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  8. This book sounds great!
    I live in 70's rancher on a beautiful lot. I need to finish painting, but I don't think I'd want to live in a different home. This house has great bones and a gives you a good feeling.

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  9. looks like a great read!

    i'd love to live in a cozy cottage with mountain views in north carolina. or rocky ocean views in maine. or an english tudor. :)

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  10. I would like a bright sunny cottage with lots of white mill work, leaded windows and big front porch with a swing :0)

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  11. Since i was young, I have always wanted to restore an old mansion. I would definitely enjoy doing something like that and I wouldn't 'flip' it like some. I would truly treasure a house that I helped restore to its beauty.

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  12. Ideally, I would like to move into Biltmore house, with just a few changes to modernise it a touch - but not too much! I think Mr. Vanderbilt would approve - he was very much interested in the latest conveniences when he built the house. I love the Winter Garden, and the enormous fireplace in the formal Dining Room. I can picture myself in the Library with a Jane Austen novel and a cup of hot tea.

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  13. I just finished this book and really liked it...it was certainly a reminder that the most important things in life aren't things, I know that I am guilty of loving my house a little too much sometimes!
    Your blog is great...you are very inspiring!

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  14. Wowie! This book sounds great! I enjoyed the interview too. I would love to win a copy!

    This violates the "more is more" fun of decorating, but I would really like to try living in a little log cabin type of house. One living space and kitchen and a private bath. Wouldn't that be a fun challenge? Of course, this would have to be in my empty nest phase of life. Right now with three teens, I want LOTS of rooms!

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  15. I wish I lived in a either a tiny beach cottage with a wraparound porch and hydrangeas in the garden or a brick georgian style home in a quaint historic town. I guess you make what you have into your dream home.

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  16. I have to put the book on my to-read list! I would love to live in the house from Practical Magic...old, tattered and with tons of charm and character!


    miss_k_p@yahoo.com

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  17. loved hearing about this new book!! thanks for the review!

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  18. I am not sure which kind of house I would want to live in--I guess a big old farmhouse, that was updated with modern conveniences of course!

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  19. An old castle with secret rooms on a dark lonely moor! (How I ended up in So. Cal. I don't know! :)

    M ^..^

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  20. My dream house is one with an acre or two that I don't have to farm, a big wrap-around porch, but it's smaller in size. My husband and I bought our home 2 years ago right after we got married and we loved it but now I'm overwhelmed at its size. I have to admit that my dream house would be a newer house - or an older house that has been fixed up (like new windows!). Having a house right now that was built in the late 80s makes me really appreciate newer houses! :) I hope I answered your question!

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  21. gosh..it sounds like the house the author lives in would be the kind of house I would love to live in. you can check out my blog for lots of "my kind of houses"...

    you always have the best books.

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  22. I've been wanting to read this book!

    My dream house would be a center hall Colonial clad in yellow clapboard with white trim and a red front door. In town with lots of mature trees.

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  23. i am lucky and live in my perfect home. my hubby and i built it ourselves so every nail and piece of wood has been placed with love. the only thing i don't like is the location as i live in the suburbs in brisbane, australia. we would so dearly love to move to a couple of acres, so our dogs can run around and we could have our daughter's horse on our property. but beggars can't be choosers and at least our house is our own.

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  24. Any old house really, as they have so much more character. I always used to want to live in a log cabin so something simple. There are a few must-haves though...an attic room, a bay window or bench seat, a fireplace and a verandah or somewhere undercover to put my old rocking chair and read or sew. Oh, also it would have to be somewhere in the countryside, with a rambling cottage garden and an orchard. A cow, a horse, some chickens, a dog and a few cats would complete the picture.

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  25. If our house had a dining hall attached (and I mean HALL, not room! LOL!) it would be perfect. I love that it's a farm house, over 200 years old, and has been in my husbands family for generations. The sense of history is what means the most to us.

    Now if I could just seat the 34 of his family, comfortably, in one room for dinner...

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  26. My dream house changes as often as my mood. I like so many styles! The one thing the house would have to have though is great light.

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  27. I love my 1925 bungalow...even after 28 years of living in it, but it would be even more perfect sitting next to the Pacific Ocean near carmel or Monterey...or at least overlooking lake Superior.

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  28. Currently, I live in a split foyer, and even though, I love my house I would prefer everything being on the same floor.

    I would like a brick four sided ranch; attached to the back would be an enclosed porch (I don't like bugs. I like the sunlight, but I can't do outside too much due to allergies. But with the sun porch I can sit and read or write no matter the time of year.

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  29. I am currently living in the house would choose. Eleven years ago we downsized to a little beach cottage built in 1927. They don't build houses today with the charm of our cottage- mullioned windows with the original wavy glass, high ceilings and French doors. My husband's studio looks out onto a beautiful English garden. Moving to the house brought out his muse. He quit his job and works full time as an artist. Just reading about the feelings the main character had for her house made me identify with her. I would be crushed if I had to leave my haven.

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  30. I would love to be living in a cozy red brick bungalo with tall windows, winding steps, and little hide-aways!

    This was a fabulous interview! Thank you so much!

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  31. My perfect house is the not-so-perfect home that my husband and one year old son live in. It's a tiny 1909 Craftsman we purchase 5 years ago and spent 2 years removing the 70's "remodeling" efforts and restoring the home to its original dignity.

    Every single corner has memories of that renovation - because we did most of it by hand. There are mistakes everywhere, but the result is perfect - the restored dented and dinged fir floors are warm and welcoming, the creamy yellow and white kitchen has a cozy sitting area and with a peek-a-boo view of the bay, and our calming blue bedroom on the 2nd floor feels like a cozy bird's nest perched above the neighborhood. I especially love our son's room with vintage decorating and quilts hand-stitched by his greatgrandma (who passed away while I was pregnant).

    Our home is also very cheery on the outside - it has cedar shake roofing and the cedar siding is painted a deep pumpkin orange with white trim. We often have total strangers stop to comment on the color and ask for samples for their own homes! The house is small, but it and the neighborhood are wonderful! We have 15 little boys under the age of 5 - that's a lot of playmates for our son!

    I can't imagine living anywhere else . . .

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  32. "colorful, fresh, uncluttered, and informal"

    Love the pic. This inspires me because I've got it down, except for the UNCLUTTERED part! Still working on that!

    Can't wait to read the book!

    Cheryl in IN

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  33. What a perfect book for you to review! I can't wait to read this, and I think I will be bumping it to the top of my 'To Read' list!

    I really don't think I could be happier living anywhere else but in my cozy little cape cod overlooking horse pastures!

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  34. Sounds good. My favourite type of house would be an old victorian with all the upgrades and still all of the charm, with a attic studio!

    Cheryl

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  35. Wow, that sounds like a great book! If I don't win the book then I'm going to buy it for sure!

    I would love to live in an old home, with character, charm and history. It would have a large kitchen with white cabinets (some with glass doors), white marble countertops, a farmhouse sink and a big gas stove. Off of the kitchen would be a garden filled with herbs and veggies. It would have a dining room with french doors and a family room with a big stone fireplace. Almost every room in the house would have a crystal chandelier. One of the bathrooms would have a large claw-foot tub. The home would look elegant but be casual at the same time! Ahhh my dream home...

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  37. Right now I live in a really tiny 1bedroom moblile home in Florida. It has always been my dream to live in a big Victorian style house that has lots of fireplaces and high ceilings!

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  38. I would love a cozy little cottage right on the ocean.

    The book sounds great, it will be on my list to read during our long winter months here in New England.

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  39. I would love to live in a cottage with a huge wrap around porch around it. Large open floor plan inside and a huge wood stove to keep it cozy!

    The book House and Home sounds amazing, and I would love to win it.

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  40. I would chose a small and cozy cottage, nestled in the woods, with at least one fireplace to keep warm and snug by.

    Melissa

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  41. Sounds like a wonderful read.

    If I had my choice I would live in an old house that had been completely renovated.

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  42. I would love to live in an old home along "main street" that had been completely renovated. :)

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  43. thanks for reminding me that I want to read this book!

    ...and my dream house is a renovated barn set on about 5 rolling acres with a small pond in the distance, some cows hangin' about and a great big pig beneath an old pear tree...

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  44. Oh this book sounds wonderful~

    A cottage by a lake says it all!

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.