One thought ran through my mind as I read The House of Tidesby Hannah Richell: GOD this is depressing.

House of Tides is about one family, the Tides, and their family tragedy. The book starts with daughter Dora, an advertising executive in London who has just found out that she’s pregnant. She doesn’t think she has a right to be a mother because of some tragic thing that happened to her family, from whom she is estranged. The story then jumps back to her mother, Helen, who was also in a similar situation of finding herself pregnant though in a much different situation: she hasn’t finished college, and she’s only been dating the man for a few months where Dora is living with the father of her unborn child.

The story of what happened is then told between flashbacks and scenes from present day life with the perspective rotation through different characters. Both timelines moving forward as the book presses on, revealing a little bit more of the horrible story of what happened with each one. Even though parts of the story are told from others’ perspectives, this is really a book about Dora and Helen, and how their choices have and will affect their lives, and how they more than anyone else have been held back by a death in the family.

In a lot of ways, The House of Tides is a typical British melodrama. Think about Downton Abbey. No one can ever, ever be happy. Just when things look like they’re on the straight and narrow, someone leaves or, more typically, dies. But Downton Abbey had something extra that made me keep watching – some snippets of joy in between and of course all of that wonderful history. Of course tragedies are worth reading. Otherwise, Shakespeare would not be what he is today. But there has to be more to it to keep you reading. The House of Tides just didn’t have that something extra.

So why did I stick with it? I’m a few days away from my marathon, and I’m not reading as much, so I’d just pick at the book here and there. I also didn’t have anything else I really wanted to read, so I figured I might as well finish the book.

Also – am I the only one getting tired of the rotating point of view? It can work – Elin Hilderbrand’s a master at it – but I think it’s being overused in fiction recently. Anyone else agree or disagree?

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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