I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this before. Hunting Houses by Fanny Britt* is a three day snapshot into Tessa’s life; a middle-aged, married real-estate agent with three boys and a husband who adores her. But we don’t just follow Tessa for this short time, we also get glimpses of her life leading up to her present day, from her childhood to her teenage years to her university days, each time period gives us a piece of her that eventually comes together to form the Tessa of ‘today’. I realize this may seem a bit boring, but Britt gives us a juicy twist in the plot-at the beginning of these three days, Tessa meets her long-lost lover Francis, who broke up with her years ago, and she’s never gotten over it. He is in the midst of a separation so he invites her to meet up three days later-we follow Tessa as she agonizes over this potential infidelity.
I was expecting something much different when I first opened this book because the synopsis refers to Tessa as ‘deeply unhappy’, but I didn’t really get that sense. Perhaps I’m just used to books where depression is much more obvious or severe, but Tessa seemed more like a ‘Mom in a rut’ more than anything. She’s struggling because she consistently puts her family ahead of herself, but unfortunately this describes about 90% of Moms out there, which I don’t agree with and wish we could change, but still it is the reality for many women. A perfect example of this is when she’s about to go meet Francis, and expecting herself to be caught up for hours with him, she double checks that there’s enough food in the fridge for her husband to make the kids dinner. Now tell me, would a man double check that his family has enough provisions before he goes out to cheat on his wife? Even though Tessa is on the verge of breaking a marriage vow, she wants to make sure everyone in her family has a full belly while she does it. Moms just can’t stop Mom-ing!
This is a short book; 250-ish pages with large font, so I raced through this in a matter of days (even with a newborn!). It’s actually a translation from French, and the translators are two of my favourites who I’ve mentioned on this blog a few times: Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli. And despite the accompanying blurb, it’s fun to read! Tessa’s short asides about her real estate career are entertaining, as are her memories of her youth. Waiting in line to get tickets to a Pearl Jam concert, going on a road trip with a friend as a undergrad, pretending to inhale when trying weed for the first time…these are all snippets of Tessa’s life that I found easy to relate to, and fun to read all at the same time. In fact, there was very little I found ‘sad’ about this book-hell I even loved the cover! I’d love a dress in this same floral print.
But I digress-Hunting Houses is a really lovely look at a middle-aged woman and the sum of her parts.
*Fanny Britt also wrote a lovely kids book that I reviewed here