All the Houses

All the Houses

Book - 2015
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"A bittersweet, biting, sharply observed family drama from the author of Waterloo. After her father has a heart attack and subsequent surgery, Helen Atherton returns to her hometown of Washington, D.C., to help take care of him and, perhaps more honestly, herself. She's been living in Los Angeles, trying to work in Hollywood, slowly spiraling into a depression fueled by hours spent watching C-SPAN-her obsession with politics a holdover from a childhood interrupted by her father's involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. "I don't know whether to think of him as a coconspirator or a complicit bystander or just someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time." Though the rest of the world has forgotten that scandal, the Atherton family never quite recovered. While living with her father in her childhood home, Helen tries to piece together the political moves that pulled her family apart. All the Houses is, at its heart, a father-daughter story. With razor-sharp prose, an alluring objectivity, and a dry sense of humor, Karen Olsson writes about the shape-shifting of our family relationships when outside forces work their way in-how Washington turns people into unnatural versions of themselves, how problematic and overbearing sisters can be, and how familial nostalgia that sets in during early adulthood can prove counterproductive to actually becoming an adult"-- Provided by publisher.
"A novel about a family disrupted by the Iran-Contra scandal"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374281328
Call Number: FIC OLS
Characteristics: 400 pages ; 22 cm


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Mar 09, 2016

This story, about how a family fell apart after being indirectly tied to the Iran-Contra affair then tries to pull itself together years later, gets bogged down in too many places. Still it is worth a read if you want an insight at what Washington life can do to political families in general - scandal or not.

Jan 29, 2016

Sharp, observant, and unsentimental, "All the Houses" is both a political drama and a domestic one. A woman returns home to D.C. to help her ailing father, who was an official in the Reagan administration and was tainted by the Iran-Contra affair. The narrative shuttles back and forth between 2004 and the 1980s, exploring strained family relationships, questionable politics, and the overlap between the two. This will be of special interest to those you remember the shadiness of Iran-Contra, which is always left out of the heroic Reagan narrative. And Reagan does exist here as a kind of benevolent, but potentially dangerous father figure. There are few strong political novels and this is a welcome change to that.


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