Category: General Fiction (Adult)
Author: Fanny Britt
Format: E-book via NetGalley, 224 pages
Publisher: Astoria (House of Anansi)
Pub Date: July 1, 2017
Summary from Publisher:
Tessa is a thirty-seven-year-old real estate agent living in Montreal. She adores her husband and three young sons, but she’s deeply unhappy and questioning the set of choices that have led to her present life.
After a surprising run-in with Francis, her ex-boyfriend and first love, Tessa arranges to see him. During the three days before their meeting, she goes about her daily life — there’s swimming lessons, science projects, and dirty dishes. As the day of her meeting with Francis draws closer she has to decide if she is willing to disrupt her stable, loving family life for an uncertain future with him.
With startling clarity and emotional force, Fanny Britt gives us a complex portrait of a woman and a marriage from the inside out.
Translated by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli.
- From NetGalley
Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt is an excavation of memory, an internal contest of decision-making and resolve with a clemency for the imagination and the idealism that imagination usually brings especially when it comes to those left behind in a person’s past.
In this case, it’s Tessa’s thoughts that centre the book, her revelatory opinions on a short, but passionate history through love and sexual emancipation, and a particular man, Francis, at the centre of her repressed idolatry and focus.
A former student of vocal music, she resigned instead to the whim of her desires in relationship to eventually fall into and graduate with credits to become a successful realtor, eventually marrying a well-suited man who loves her wholly and tenderly: Jim, a stable anchor and partner, the father of their three young sons, and a successful and professional orchestral musician whom she returns to in the routine of love and domestic life.
As Tessa takes inventory of the number of houses she showcases and manages to sell on the market, she does so with a keen and receptive eye, taking stock of the homes, as she does mentally coupling them with pre-judgements of their respective owners.
The style in which she does this, is in the same way she recalls the people and events in her life from: her supportive and doting mother, Paule; her easy-going, earth-loving adventurer of a brother, Étienne; and her confident and spontaneous childhood friend, Sophie.
Together, they form a network of those who create for her a backdrop of her identity, some the reader can assume is a catalyst to her uncertainties about herself and her life choices—especially the one she resigns to in wanting to meet Francis again upon a chance run-in as realtor to his wife, Évelyne, and the extension of herself as found in her fabulous house.
The book feels and almost reads like a giddy soliloquy filled with the romanticism of one’s own fantasies and self-indulgence; the idealism of love found in an idea of a man, rather than the man himself; a sort of emotional reckoning with an unrequited past.
A beer and a bar and the power of nostalgia—along with the sobriety of time, change, and real life, close this novel to its inevitable end.
It is a book not only of hunting houses, but of hunting for answers to the main character’s lifelong search: in all the transitions and journeying in someone’s life—what and with whom can one truly make a home?
Characters: 3 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Language/Narrative: 3 stars
Dialogue: 2.5 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Cover Design: 3.5 stars
A special thanks to House of Anansi on behalf of Astoria for providing me with an e-copy of the book, Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and timely review.
About the Author:
Fanny Britt is a playwright, novelist and translator. Her play Bienveillance won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama (French). Her first novel, Les maisons, was short-listed for the France-Québec prize and the Prix littéraire des collégiens. She has also translated and adapted some thirty plays and novels.
Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault first collaborated on the graphic novel Jane, the Fox and Me, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration (French) and the Joe Shuster Awards for Best Writer and Best Artist. It was also named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book.
From 49th Shelf blog.