I admit it. I’m a sucker for an intriguing book title. This one pulled me in, even before I had read what the book was about. Who is Henry House and why is his name alliterative? Why is he irresistible? A well-crafted first sentence pulls me in also. “By the time Henry House was four months old, a copy of his picture was being carried in the pocketbooks of seven different women, each of whom called him her son.” It turns out that Henry House (as well as previous and succeeding “practice babies”) was an orphan who was used as a subject for a domestic arts child-rearing class. He spent his first two years being cared for in shifts by a half-dozen practice mothers. Henry learns how to make his mothers happy, but not to get too attached to any one of them. This is a practice that follows him into his adult life, but not to his benefit.
Henry is a handsome, charismatic young man with a special talent for drawing that lands him animation jobs in the 1960s with Walt Disney and the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine movie. The reader follows the history of the time with Henry, and agonizes over his inability to develop relationships with his adopted mother and other women. The author used the historical record of Cornell University’s “practice babies” to create a life that was influenced by Henry’s past, but not defined by it as he matured. Irresistible?
You’ll have to find that out for yourself!
I am very excited about a new book I have just read, Cutting for Stone
by author/physician Abraham Verghese. Be prepared to set aside a few days (and nights) when you begin this awesome book. I couldn't put it down. Verghese is a skilled writer and draws the reader into the book immediately. Without giving away too much of the plot, the novel focuses on the world of medicine following a man on a legendary quest to find his father. The book moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner city hospital in New York City over generations. The characters are interesting and well developed. There is a little of everything in this story - nuns, conjoined twins, medicine and civil war. This novel is majestically told, superbly structured and the most original piece of fiction that I have read in a long time. This is an unforgettable tale of a remarkable life and an epic story about the power and beauty of healing people. Pick it up. You won't be sorry.