Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: Julian Gloag's Our Mother's House

Our Mother's House has an intriguing beginning. It hooked me up from the first page to the last - chilly, intense with dark humor.


The plot is very intriguing... It has the opposite nature of children’s behaviour; innocence is not a nature here, but dark humour, common sense and provocation of thoughts that’ll surely arouse the rapt interest of the reader. Every scene is juicy and mysterious. Suspense was in every step of the stairs, and in every corner of the house lurking and waiting to shock you! This book definitely made me to read on and on.
“Mother died today...”
Leaving her seven children behind.
Seven children who loved her so.
Who will miss her so.

The book was remaked as a 1967 British Drama Film by Director Jack Clayton and screenplay by Jeremy Brooks.

"A startling and impressive book" - Baltimore Sun

Mom is seriously ill, but she didn’t go see the doctor. Now, mother is dead, upstairs in her room. Elsa, the eldest, was sure that they’ll end up in an orphanage, in different orphanages. All of her siblings were afraid of losing each other.

I inserted one paragraph out of the book, because this is the only page that gives the full details of the children, their home and her mother’s name:

closer look to the front cover of the pocket edition
Out of the envelope, Elsa took a sheet of paper and started reading: “Last Will and Testament. I, Violet Edna Hook, of 38 Ipswich Terrace, being of sound mind, hereby bequeath: the lease on 38 Ipswich Terrace; all the furniture and contents of the house; the money in my post office savings bank; and all my personal effects to my dear children, Elsa Rosemary, Diana Amelia, Dustan Charles, Hubert George, James McFee, Gertrude Harriet and William John Winston, to be divided equally among them as they shall decide. I leave them also my blessing in confidence that all will cherish each other and in hope that, having no other, they shall find continual solace and encouragement from the words and deeds of Our Heavenly Father. To my husband, Charles Robert Hook, I hope I can truly say I leave forgiveness which one day I pray he will deserve and the love which he never used but as I sword to twist under my heart, yet which, despite all, I will always bear for him. Violet Edna Hook.” –Page 30 of the pocket edition.

Thus, they decided to bury their mother in their garden. In a way, they pretend she didn’t die, that mom would still be with them.

They go on with their lives, as if mom was just lying sick in her cozy room. When her monthly cheque arrives, her brother forges her signature, by doing so; they will keep a monthly income for groceries and house bills. They keep the questioning public out of their home. When the police arrived, they deal with them. When their good neighbours asked for assistance, they manage to keep them at bay.

Until, one of Elsa’s brothers wrote a letter to their estranged father, Charlie Hook. He knocked to their door and controls their lives after that. He is always drunk, brings women in their house and called them bastards.

Calling them ‘bastards’ cross the children’s limit and Elsa hit Charlie in the head with a fire iron that cause his death. They fight each other. Can they bury Charlie beside their mom in the garden? How will they explain his immediate absence to the neighbours? They give up in the end and call the authorities in the end.

the children are not alone, mom is in the garden buried.
Besides, they were children. They should not be the one to decide.

This is totally chilly and tense drama. The whole story is chaotic and absurd that I still think about it after shutting the last chapter. I hope to see a remake film of this book for I cannot find the whole movie available locally and online.


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