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From the Stacks: A couple's life unravels in 'Our House'

From the Stacks: A couple's life unravels in 'Our House'

January 6th, 2019 by Kimberly Bolton, For the News Tribune in Life & Entertainment

Fi Lawson thinks she is losing her mind. She must be!

The house she has so lovingly restored over the years, the house in which she is raising her children, the house she hoped to someday leave to her children in her old age is suddenly sold to a young married couple who claim that yes, indeed, Mr. and Mrs. Bram Lawson have signed the deed of sale and they are in the process of moving in. But Fi hasn't contacted a real estate agent. She and Bram have never seriously discussed putting their house up for sale.

Living in the upscale suburban community of London, Fi knows Alder Rise is the perfect neighborhood in which to raise her two boys. It's close to their school, there is little to no crime, with family-friendly activities to keep them closely involved with their friends and neighbors. Moving out would be the last thing she wants to do. And yet, even Fi admits Alder Rise is not the utopian ideal it proposes to be. Her marriage to Bram has been slowly eroding over the last several years and there are secrets hiding behind their neighbors' curtained windows that Fi can only guess at.

"Our House" by Louise Candlish is the story of Fi and Bram Lawson. Deciding to separate, the two consent to try a new kind of experimental separation called "bird's nest" custody, an arrangement that will ensure their sons remain in the home they are familiar with instead of the upheaval and anxiety caused by having to move to a new place with only one parent.

Fi and Bram rent a small apartment on the other side of the park that adjoins their neighborhood. They will rotate between living at the house and the apartment during the separation depending on whose week it is to stay with the boys. Fi thinks the arrangement is working out well, until she returns home after a weekend away only to discover her beautiful house has been sold out from under her, her furniture and personal mementos have vanished into thin air. Her husband and her sons are nowhere to be found. And a strange couple are in the process of moving into her beloved home.

In keeping with today's cultural obsession with social media, Candlish has Fi tell her story to an online crime podcast called "The Victim." Likewise, Bram shares his side of the story by keeping a journal on his laptop. Through each of their stories the reader is immersed in their dark secrets, secrets that become ever darker as the truth is slowly exposed beneath the bald light of social media scrutiny.

British novelist Candlish has crafted a suspenseful story of a marriage gone bad, warped by addiction, twisted by deception. The complexities of Fi's and Bram's relationship are skillfully spliced with dark twists and turns, her plot artfully pieced together so that the unsuspecting reader does not see the end coming until the very last paragraph.

Kimberly Bolton is a circulation clerk at Missouri River Regional Library.