TLC Book Tour ♦ Dream House by Valerie Laken

Dream House

What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

When Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a run-down historic house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’re hoping their grand renovation project can rescue their troubled marriage. Instead, they discover that years ago their home was the scene of a terrible crime – and the revelation tips the balance of their precarious union.
When a mysterious man begins lurking around her yard, Kate, now alone, is forced to confront her home’s dangerous past. Hers is not the only life that has crumbled under this roof. This man’s family also disintegrated here, as the result of one brief act of rage that may haunt him – and this house – for years to come.

Book Title: Dream House Type: Trade Paperback 352 pages
Author: Valerie Laken Publication Date: January 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial ISBN: 978-0-06-084093-8
Genre: Contemporary Fiction Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts  

Probably one of the most exciting things about buying a new house is the actual house tours. The buyer is a stranger walking into what was a home to the previous owners and envisioning how they will make it their own. What goes into the decision to purchase is how a particular house will become a home, because where a person lives is so much a part of their life. But how many prospective homeowners go to open houses and try to see what lives were lived in the house in the past? I’m guessing that not many do, even though houses are memory banks of lives, secrets, and history.

Kate and Stuart Kinzler have bought a house that they plan to completely renovate with the hopes that this process will also have a positive effect on their marriage which has started to fall apart. But after discovering their new houses’ history, it appears that their renovation project will be easier to complete than their own personal problems.

Eventually Kate finds herself going on with the house project alone, until one day Walker Price shows up and offers to help. Working alongside Walker, Kate will discover some of her houses’ secrets and learn that giving a house a face-lift does not erase the history it hides.

In Dream House there are a number of story-lines at work, that all play a part in how the novel concludes. Kate and Stuarts’ relationship plot was the one I was least interested in. I felt it had too much of a made-for-tv movie feel to it, and I was a little cynical. A couple experiencing marriage problems takes on a major project or change in order to fix things – it seemed like they were hoping that this project would take the pressure off their current issues. To me this is an obvious mistake, the only way to fix a problem is to face it head-on. Plus the stress and pressures that come with home renovation could only exacerbate their relationship headaches.

However, the relationships that Kate develops later on in the story with her new acquaintances, Walker and Jay, led to the meat of the story which I really enjoyed. The author uses their present interactions as a way to tell about the history of the house as well as the characters, and that is what made the story work well for me. I liked that things were revealed slowly as the story progressed, there were no shocking plot-twists or other gimmicks, the story just slowly (but satisfyingly) unwound.

I enjoyed Valerie Laken’s Dream House very much, especially how the past and present came together. Although some of the elements were predictable, the story was unique. At first I had hoped it would focus on the development of Kate, but in the end I found it was more about how a house can be many things for different people.  

Valerie Laken

About The Author

Valerie Laken’s work has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, the Missouri Review, and the Chicago Tribune.
The winner of a Pushcart Prize, she teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Other TLC Blog Tour Stops

1-Feb-10: Stephanie’s Written Word
4-Feb-10: One Persons Journey
9-Feb-10: lit*chick
10-Feb-10: I’m Booking It
15-Feb-10: Devourer of Books

17-Feb-10: Educating Petunia
18-Feb-10: Dolce Bellezza
22-Feb-10: Wordsmithonia
25-Feb-10: All About {n}

TLC Book Tours Thanks so much to Trish at TLC Book Tours for giving
me the opportunity to host a stop on this tour!

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Care said...

The idea of renovating a house as a project to repair a marriage just does NOT make sense to me - I would think it would only make things worse. Call me a cynic. And I always think of that Tom Hanks movie, the Money Pit.
Great review.

trish said...

Interesting how a house can be many things to different people. I'm glad you enjoyed the story overall. Few stories work perfectly for me, so I understand why part of this book didn't work for you.

Great review...very balanced! Thanks for being on the tour!

Zibilee said...

I have heard mixed things about this book, and your review seems to capture the good points of the book as well as some of the less desirable points very clearly. I am still interested in reading it, but it has dropped a bit on my list. I am glad that it turned out to be a pretty good read for you. I liked hearing your thoughts on it.

bermudaonion said...

When we were house hunting one time, I walked into a house that really gave me the creeps and I don't know why. I was barely in the front door and I told the realtor that I wanted to leave. I always wondered if something awful had happened there. Because of my experience, this book sounds good to me.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have seen a few review of this around and I think from reading your review that I can safely add this to books that I wan to read. I like that it has a slightly spooky quality to it too.

softdrink said...

The former owner of our house used to sunbathe on the the nude. I would have been perfectly happy if our house had kept that secret forever.

Veens said...

Gosh! I think u r right, we need to face an issue head-on and no other way it can be solved.

LOL @ Jill's comment above !! :D

Interesting story line. I am moving this weekend :) and till now We have only thought abt how to make the house our home :)

Valerie said...

This takes place in Ann Arbor? I lived there for several years, so I'll have to check this out out. My husband and I renovated an old house when we lived in Ann Arbor, and believe me, renovations add stress to even the best of marriages :-).

Seriously, though, looks like an interesting book and I'm taking note of it.