The Life of Houses explores, with a poet’s eye for detail, the hidden tensions in one of Australia’s establishment families.These tensions come to the surface during a week in summer when Anna sends her daughter Kit to stay with her parents,and the unmarried sister who cares for them, in their old and decaying house by the sea. Kit barely knows her grandparents; her mother is estranged from the family and has not taken her to visit them or the house in which she grew up. Recently separated from her husband, Anna sends Kit to them now so she can pursue a new love affair.
The Life of Houses is a novel about mothers and daughters, and coming of age. It is also about property, and how people’s feelings for the places that they inhabit can shape their lives.
The Life of Houses is written in a uniquely expressive and dramatic style that makes use of the close focus and unexpected perspectives that Gor ton has mastered so effectively in her poetry. It is a style reminiscent of Henry James and Patrick White, a high style perfectly suited to the portrayal of the desires and inhibitions of her characters.