Great House is made up of four stories connected in varying degrees to each other and to an oversized writing desk with many drawers. The stories are split over the book – all the first halves then all the second halves.
All the stories are told in first person, but the voices aren’t different enough from each other to make it work. Had each story had its own strong voice I probably would have enjoyed the book, but as it stands I got bored and confused when it all just mushed together in my head. I think it’s also why I didn’t feel consistently emotionally connected to the characters, which is pretty key when a book is more about people than plot.
I also wonder whether my lack of knowledge about Jewish culture and traditions meant I missed a lot of hidden story. I could see symbols/metaphor tucked in there but unfortunately I don’t know enough to connect them to anything.
There were points where the writing was quite beautiful and I was taken into the story, but eventually my mind always wandered. If I hadn’t been reading it for a book club, I probably would have given up on it in the first half, which would have been a shame as the second part, particularly towards the end, was much better. I have read some great books that were more people/ideas with little plot. Alas, this wasn’t one of them for me.