The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai is a novel written backwards. It’s more art than story.
Zee is married to Doug. Doug is an unemployed writer and they are forced as a married couple to move in to the coach house of the hundred-year house. Zee’s mom lives in the great house. The property used to be an art colony. Doug is researching poet, Edward Parfitt. While living in the coach house, a couple from Texas moves in and causes problems between Doug and Zee. The Texan couple doesn’t yet realize it. It’s a complex novel with a good story that I felt ended well on page 167. The rest of the novel after page 167 is all back story ending with the prologue.
I’ve heard of novels like these, and agents say they are the hardest to write, because if you don’t do it right, it’s a project that loses the interest of the readers. Up to page 167, I thought the descriptions of the drama and plot twists were well-done. The cuss words and graphic descriptions were unnecessary. But the story well done.
It was after page 167 that I lost interest. At that point, I really didn’t care enough about the art colony to want to hear their individual points of view. I reluctantly finished the novel. I’m sure the art community will love that part of the book. Regular readers might feel bored through it and wonder why the story didn’t just end at page 167. I wished the novel could have been written normally with all the backstory fed into the twist and turns of the plot, ending the way it ended on page 167.
Sometimes art is distracting when one wants to read a juicy story. In spite of its back-story, I still give The Hundred-Year House three stars for complexity of characters.
Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.