Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: The Dwelling by Susie Moloney (novel - 2003)

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 I recently purchased a hardcover, first edition copy of The Dwelling by Winnipeg author Susie Moloney. I bought it used for .75¢ (original list price $39.95).

 The basic description? Glenn Darnley of Shelter Reality has been given the task of selling 362 Belise Street. A task that keeps returning to her through a succession of new owners and their experiences with the house that has a new life of its own. 

 After a couple of false starts of not being able to make it past the first page due to my obsession with re-reading the following excerpt: 

 "Glenn tugged at the hair at the back of her neck, and absently brushed phantom wisps from the sides of her face out of habit. For fifty years, she had kept it long. Today, she'd had it cut. Short. It was driving her crazy. 

 She leaned against her car, giving the house the once-over before going in. It was gray and cool out, the sort of spring day that isn't spring at all, but smells like winter and looks like threatening fall. 

 The hair dresser, a girl of about mid-twenties or so, had greeted her carefully. Hello, Mrs. Darnley, how nice to see you - She'd stopped suddenly without finishing and blushed furiously. Oh god, I'm sorry, are you still going with Darnley? I'm so-

 He died, dear. He didn't dump me, she'd said gamely, making the girl stutter and blush some more and ruining the whole New Glenn experience for about ten minutes. How could a person be so stupid? Howard would have loved that story."

 Finally, I buckled down and really began to read, managing to polish off this 408 page book in a single sitting easily as it gripped me firmly and didn't let go even as I reached the final page. As a big fan of anthology programs, one of the most appealing features of this book for me was how it presented three different, contiguous stories set in the same house, framed by the journey of Glenn. Moloney expertly weaving and flowing her story as a vital anchor throughout, rather than have her tackle on dully as bookends in the saga of this haunted house. How she is coping with unexpected widowhood, a gradual illness, and this listing that never truly leaves her (in more ways than one).

 The house has many potential bites, but no real takers until a young professional couple, Dan and Becca Mason buy the home. Things begin to go awry for the couple almost immediately after purchase when Dan is laid off and the pressures off and the landing a promotion mount on Becca. Going up for sale again, Glenn next sells the house to a recently divorced Barbara and her 8 year old son. In a new town they both struggle to fit into their new life and away from the cheating ex-husband/father who is preparing to marry his former mistress.  Lastly it is sold to novelist Richie Bramley, who is looking for a fresh start following the break-up with his long-time girlfriend over his struggles with alcohol. 

 Moloney manages to craft vulnerable, relatable characters that feel quite tangible while battling not only the ghosts within 362 Belise, but the ghosts within themselves. 

 For example, form the first page I found something relatable to Glenn, while later on when Barbara refers to the woman whom her ex-husband cheated on her with as "whore", wishes that he would contract a venereal disease, and the subsequent break down that occurs when she learns that he is set to remarry.  Actually I'm sure that many of us have an ex like that in our pasts, I know that I have one. 

 Every story line flows well from one to the next, and its not just the sympathetic characters but also so many supernatural details that not only make this book a great candidate for re-reading, but well worth its cover price.

 Verdict?
 Recommended by Mé