House of Sticks

House of Sticks Bonnie has given up her life as a musician to become a stay at home mum She tells herself she has no regrets but sometimes the isolation and the relentless demands of three small children threaten to

  • Title: House of Sticks
  • Author: Peggy Frew
  • ISBN: 9781921844270
  • Page: 260
  • Format: Paperback
  • Bonnie has given up her life as a musician to become a stay at home mum She tells herself she has no regrets, but sometimes the isolation and the relentless demands of three small children threaten to swamp the love between Bonnie and her partner, Pete Then an old mate of Pete s arrives Doug is eccentric and intrusive, and his unsettling presence disrupts Bonnie s worldBonnie has given up her life as a musician to become a stay at home mum She tells herself she has no regrets, but sometimes the isolation and the relentless demands of three small children threaten to swamp the love between Bonnie and her partner, Pete Then an old mate of Pete s arrives Doug is eccentric and intrusive, and his unsettling presence disrupts Bonnie s world further Yet as the cracks really start to show in the life Bonnie and Pete have built together, it seems the dangers might also come from within.House of Sticks is a revealing portrait of contemporary family life, its joys and compromises, and how quickly things can unravel It s about trying to stay connected in our disconnected society a story of identity and community, loyalty and love.

    One thought on “House of Sticks”

    1. I had a lot of difficulty writing this review because I really, really wanted to like this book, and I want to support any young, talented female Australian authors, but unfortunately the only effect it had on me was to depress me.My biggest problem with this book is that I found it completely devoid of joy. The descriptions of domestic life were interesting and believable, yet Bonnie never seemed to enjoy any of it, or be aware of her extraordinary privilege. Her husband works from home and app [...]

    2. Musician Peggy Frew has beautifully captured the malaise of a woman unhappy with what her life is becoming in House Of Sticks. This novel's languid pace and focus on the minutiae of a suburban life give it a stark poignancy. The way main character Bonnie talks about music and the struggle she has to keep it in her life now that she's a mother is a reminder of what women often have to give up or re-prioritise when they begin a family.

    3. This was a very insightful and well balanced book, which exposed beautifully a lot of the tensions within a relationship that come with raising a young family. I found myself nodding and wanting to tag page after page - in terms of the way the main character made a point and then couldn't leave it but had to bring it up again with her partner, or the way she reacted to her mother's response to certain situations, or the frustration with the mess of home and family life. Throw into the mix an old [...]

    4. The recent Brendan Cowell film production, 'Ruben Guthrie', places the sunshine-y hedonism of the Harbour City front and central to it's plot, almost leading to the destruction of the titular character in a sea of alcohol and drugs - and so that city does for Bonnie. She could have been a contender in the music industry, but in Frew's 'House of Sticks' she has fallen in love with a tradie husband and is burdened down by three sprogs. She loves them all dearly, life rubs along okay - but she's un [...]

    5. Those of you who regularly read my reviews will know that Peggy Frew's novel Hope Farm is one of my favourites so far this year (and I am lucky enough to be in conversation with Peggy about her work at Riverbend Books on 28 July). To get a feel for her writing, I decided to read her debut novel, House of Sticks, released in 2011. I was not disappointed. For all my book club followers, this would be a perfect choice - lots to discuss! House of Sticks is an intensely personal look at the minutiae [...]

    6. I enjoyed reading this book that has captured the daily routines of a family with pre-school twins and a new baby. Bonnie is a musician who has led a life of touring and recording prior to bearing children. Pete is a craftsman who makes furniture and now has his own business that means he works from home. However, that doesn't mean he can take up the househusband role leaving Bonnie to actively return to her music career. That said he is a helpful sensitive partner and is supportive when an oppo [...]

    7. Peggy Frew's debut novel House of Sticks starts out as a somewhat tense "surburban gothic" novel, only to quickly descend into dreary domestic drama. Bonnie is a mother of three young children, she gave up her life as a touring musician to care for them while her husband Pete build up his woodworking business. Into their comfortable middle-class life Pete's old friend, Doug, arrives, upsetting the balance between the couple. The arrival of Doug seems to begin a chain of events in which Bonnie's [...]

    8. The wry, clear-eyed observation with which the characters are drawn makes House of Sticks a compelling read. It didn't leave me feeling happy, exactly, so if you're looking for that it might not be the book for you. However, this story felt so honest that I found it to be deeply satisfying. Frew never falls back on clichés or easy answers, which imbues the moments of grace and turmoil in this story with an uncommon poignancy. Bonnie, the speaker, is as flawed as the others and all the more inte [...]

    9. I won this book as part of giveaways and first reads.As far as plots go, this book doesn't really have one. It has ongoing themes and ideas, but in terms of plot, nothing much happens. It's described as an urban gothic on the cover, but that isn't really an appropriate description. Instead, it follows the life of a couple going through a rough patch. It's not a crisis, it's not a falling apart, it's just a rough spot that all couples go through occasionally. In this case, it's triggered by an o [...]

    10. I quite enjoyed my recent read of 'House of Sticks' by Peggy Frew. This work of fiction is easy to read as it follows the lives of Melbourne family Bonnie & Pete and their 3 young children. The story is told from Bonnie's point of view & emphasizes the internal struggle she faces remembering her life of freedom & concerts before having children compared to her life as a domestic parent. She often finds herself disturbed by the sudden appearance of Pete's work partner Doug, who passiv [...]

    11. The characters in this book could be anyone, in any household in Australia, and that is exactly why it has such broad appeal. As the reader is hurled straight into Bonnie’s shoes, it becomes difficult to separate reality from her bias and paranoias, which makes reading this a very personal experience. Her relationship with Pete is a lovely one, and anyone that has stumbled through first love into a long term relationship will recognise the doubts that grow over time, and the struggle to keep t [...]

    12. This is one of those deeply wriggle-in-your-seat uncomfortable reads. Bonnie is both heroine and everyday flustered, insecure mother. Into the typical suburban life of any 30 something hipsters comes the old mate of husband, Pete, who could be a malevolent harbinger of drama or could just be the vehicle for Bonny's paranoia. I admit, I couldn't wait to finish this book. Bonny constantly apologising and running after three thankless, infuriating brats and a spineless, unhelpful husband makes her [...]

    13. I loved this book. It was very suburban Australian.At times I thought Frew must have been bugging my house. Frew captured the dialogue and thoughts of dreary day to day life with small children so well and the one sided arguments you can have with your spouse.The idea of hating motherhood so much (Bonnie's mum) is rarely written about unless the character is witch like AKA Joan Crawford Mummy Dearest. Persevering through the drudgery of day to day child rearing and longing for your former life, [...]

    14. Wonderful. In her debut novel Frew presents a realistic portrait of motherhood, the intensity and physicality of it, the fracturing and mending of relationships and that struggle to keep hold of the person you were before. Initially I did find some of the dialogue clunky but that passed as I got drawn into Bonnie and Pete's imperfect domesticity. Perhaps because I found this so relatable I think I enjoyed it more than Frew's sophomore effort, Hope Farm. I'm certainly looking forward to whatever [...]

    15. I was looking forward to House of Sticks by Peggy Frew – it was getting rave reviews, including this enticing description of Frew’s style – “Helen Garner meets Henry James”.I love Helen Garner! I really love Henry James!Oh dear. I didn’t love House of Sticks.I found the characters obvious and one-dimensional. Frew’s attempt to build tension around the character of Doug, a family friend, seemed contrived. Yet, just when that part of the story is progressing, it falls away and other [...]

    16. I picked this book up from the library having seen it mentioned on one of the blogs that I follow meetmeatmikes. I always want to read Australian fiction but sometimes find it tedious and sometimes dull I hate to say. But I'm so glad I picked this book up, I dont have a family so you dont have to be a mother to enjoy the book. I found the description of the family to be honest and authentic I found it interesting I wasn't sure what might happen with one the plot around Pete's friend Doug. I wish [...]

    17. Wow, at last a book which is gritty and real. The characters were so normal and so flawed and so rounded I felt like I could talk to them. Set in Melb and with a central character who had given up a career and was swamped by the endless demands of small kids on a tight budget it was probably too close to home. I could so identify with Bonnie on so many levels and lots of her struggles are the everyman challenges. Refreshing to have people who were not beautiful, slim and just so amazing. Not a c [...]

    18. As a muso, a mum, a melbournian and the partner of a man with some socially questionable friends there was no way I was not going to relate to this story unless it was terribly written, and it was constructed beautifully and believably. I loved Bonnie's suspicions of Doug running wild in her head. I loved her awkward relationship with her unmotherly mother. I loved her partnership with Pete, not a meeting of minds but a credible attraction of complementary opposites building a life together. The [...]

    19. I am privileged to know Peggy and so the book had a strong resonance for me - not to suggest that it is autobiographical but rather that I could hear her speak the words that she wrote. I did find the ending a bit rushed after the slower pace of the bulk of the book. As others have said contemporary Australian fiction and with a similarity to The Slap but not as gritty. An easy and enjoyable read.

    20. Aussie Suburban drama. I really liked this book. The grandmother was soo scarily like my mum that I found myself flinching at her comments/attitude. I really like Bonnie and found her thoughts and feelings extremely realistic. I think a lot of mums struggle daily with young children and this book captured this. The tension between husband and wife was captured so beautifully. It was a little depressing but sometimes life has those times. Great debut from a local lady :)

    21. Dreary and depressing. As a portrait of of suburban motherhood it skipped all the good bits and left me just with the drudgery. I struggled to empathise with Bonnie, nor indeed any of the characters. They seemed to learn nothing from their various challenges, and at the end seemed to be entirely unchanged. So the drudgery will continue.

    22. I loved this book, it was a nice little surprise. I loved the style, the characters. It had some lovely poignant moments and insight, particularly from a mother's perspective. There were moments where I was begging the protagonist to act differently, but I seem to love books that evoke this! A little slow and laborious in parts, it ultimately delivers. Don't read it if you need cheering up :-)

    23. I didn't like this book as much as Hope Farm - her more recent book, which was great. This book was okay.

    24. Only slightly less boring than Georgia Blain's 'Too Close to Home', this was another waste of time with unlikeable characters and a predictable, if unrealistic, plot development.

    25. Not as good as I'd hoped. Didn't seem to go anywhere. Great tension but a bit blah. Still, great to read Australian authors and an engaging read

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