9781590173350Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

The life of Rachel Waring is the focus of Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar. Rachel, who has “never been kissed,” lives an unassuming life with a roommate and they both seem to be going nowhere fast. As the story begins and as fate would have it, Rachel’s great-aunt leaves her a mansion in her will. At first, Rachel doesn’t want the Bristol property, but she soon realizes its potential and begins work on renovating the old house. By bringing the house to life, she begins to develop a life of her own at last.

The reader will meet Mr. Guthrie and other characters that come in and out of usefulness to Rachel throughout the book. The line between what is necessary to keep her happy, and what is necessary to keep her sane soon becomes blurred, leaving the reader to decipher the writing style for herself.

The entire narrative is written in a type of modified stream of consciousness, where Rachel thinks and dreams, then speaks and ponders what she should do with her life. The tone of voice, phrases and wording has a type of period writing quality to it, suggesting a bygone era. There is some dependence on clichés, but other than that, it is well written.

Whether or not Rachel’s social awkwardness ever turns into elegance becomes a moot point. It seems important for her to find someone to love her, but it is not the central theme. Rather, the reader begins to care deeply about the character, and that is what makes this book fun to read.

Poppy graduated with a JD from the Michael Moritz College of Law. After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, she decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

This book was provided free of any obligation by NYRB Classics. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.