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House Of Orphans (2006)

House of Orphans (2006)

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3.28 of 5 Votes: 1
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0670914525 (ISBN13: 9780670914524)
viking books

About book House Of Orphans (2006) this book is titled 'House of Orphans', we actually meet very few orphans, in fact only Eeva, female protagonist of the story, and Anna Lusa, who runs the orphanage. The orphanage is just used to set the scene for the story of Eeva because it is to the orphanage that she is sent when her father, a revolutionary and her only family dies. When she is older the orphanage places her in service with a widowed doctor who finds himself falling in love with her. So he is somewhat relieved when she decides to return to live in her home town of Helsinki, to be near her childhood sweetheart Lauri. Now a grown man himself he has also become involved in the fight for freedom against the Russians. An opportunity for me to learn about somewhere I knew nothing about historically it is an absorbing account of life in Finland in the early 1900s. I preferred the earlier part of the book which is centred on Eeva’s childhood growing up in the Finnish countryside and must admit to finding myself less interested in the account of the political turmoil once the story transferred to Helsinki.A compassionate story of love and loneliness set against an interesting background.

A lot of the reviews of House of Orphans complain about the sudden switch in style as the book moves from the countryside to the city. I guess maybe what Helen Dunmore was attempting here was to show how the move from rural to urban living also signalled a change in strorytelling style: from whatever went before (lyrical realism?) to modernism, and I imagine she was trying to reflect that in the way she wrote this. Hence the long detailed chunks of narration that deal with Eevi and the Doctor in the countryside, and the more jumpy, at times discordant, style of narration once we are in the city.I slightly agree that not enough happens here, towards the end, that the novel somehow feels unfinished. But this could be intentional. To me this book is as much about what forced people in countries across Europe to make new beginnings out of their various feudal pasts, as it is about a particular time and place (Finland in the very early 1900s). And yet I like this book, and feel it is better to try something original and only partly succeed than to always stick with the programme and make a watertight literary product.

Do You like book House Of Orphans (2006)?

It's sort of slow in action, things only start to get interesting two thirds of the way through the book. Before then, you'll have to sit through many chapters of a middle aged man lusting after a 16/17 year old girl. But once the exciting things start happening, it's not a bad book. I like how her life in the House of Orphans had such an impact on how Eeva, one of the main characters, thought and acted. I enjoyed the last third of the book, but since things took so long to get good, I'm rating it two stars. The ending left things kind of up in the air. I would have liked to see things resolved better.

This book was ok and I kept on reading thinking it was going to suddenly develop into something more exciting but it didn't.It was a bleak and quite grim story about a girl in Finland in the early part of the 20th century who is sent to a rural orphanage, then gets a job with an ageing doctor who gets rather obsessed with her. She dreams of returning to the city and her childhood sweetheart.When she returns to Helsigfors (Helsinki) she finds he has become a political activist and the story gets quite complicated and rather disjointed with a bland ending.

The first part of this book hums along at the steady, reassuring pace of a knitting Grandma with enough interest to keep the plot bubbling. About halfway, things change and though the reader suspects this earlier phase will have some bearing on the ultimate destiny of the plot, I did find my interest starting to wane from then on. Intelligently written, like all her books, this taught me a great deal about Finnish history but left me with the nagging sensation of not having fully understood what the author was trying to convey. For example there is a theme of multiple lives lived by a single person, which is returned to again and again so it's clearly important but I didn't really 'get' it. One for higher beings than me, I think!
—Jayne Charles

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