The House at the End of Hope Street begins with a mystery. Alba Ashby is lost, adrift with internal turmoil. It is amidst her deep despair that she comes to the house, number eleven Hope Street. Thus, Menna van Praag’s novel, The House at the End of Hope Street, begins with radiated nuances of secrets throughout. The house exudes mystery, as do the residents of the house.
Built in 1811, number eleven Hope Street has always been cared for by the women of the Abbot family. Women gifted with a keen sixth sense. Peggy Abbot is the current caretaker of the house. It is on the night before Peggy’s 82nd birthday that Alba Ashby finds herself on the doorstep of number eleven Hope Street. Alba has never seen the house before during her four year wanderings of Cambridge, England, and yet it is not an easy place to miss being larger and more fancifully elaborate than the surrounding buildings. Number eleven Hope Street has stood steadfast against time and change. It is not a traditional family home. It is a refuge for lost women who need time, ninety-nine nights to be precise, to turn their lives around.
Over the centuries, the house at the end of Hope Street has attracted some of the greatest female minds of English, and world, history. It is Alba’s gift of foresight that has brought her to the house. She is not the only transient dweller seeking solace from the outside world. There is Carmen, an electric Portuguese singer, and Greer, a beautiful actress. Each has come to eleven Hope Street with her own secrets and a fretful hope to heal or hide from her own distress. The living are not the only inhabitants at the house. The place is filled with the memories of the past and, in some cases, the ghosts of past occupants who still reside at eleven Hope Street.
I enjoyed The House at the End of Hope Street. Praag’s novel is well crafted, easily read, and intriguing in its teasing secrets. I want to know if there is a vacancy at eleven Hope Street. As enticing as Menna van Praag’s story is, the unwritten tales of the inhabitants of eleven Hope Street continue to flitter through my thoughts making me ponder all that may have taken place between the house’s walls.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by FSB Associates. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.