Happy HouseSeptember 27, 2009
I read Jane Abbott’s Happy House for the first time in May. It’s different from the other Abbott books I’ve read in that it’s aimed at a slightly older audience, and also in that…well, it seems a bit more formulaic. But I like it a lot.
The main character is a girl who has just graduated from college. Her name is Anne Leavitt, and so is that of her best friend, but the protagonist is usually called Nancy. The two Anne Leavitts, along with their other best friend, Claire, are packing when a porter arrives with a letter addressed to one of the Annes — they’re not sure which. After reading the invitation from Sabrina Leavitt to her niece, they conclude that it belongs to Anne, not Nancy, but Anne is just about to leave for Russia to do something vaguely humanitarian, so she persuades Nancy to go in her place.
Aunt Sabrina’s home is called Happy House, and so of course it isn’t one. Sabrina is very cold, and has guilted her crippled sister into hiding in her room for twenty or thirty years. Nancy cheers everyone up, falls in love, and finds out that she really is the Anne Leavitt who belongs at Happy House.
It’s very cute, and the love interest is convincingly attractive, and there’s a bit where a famous theater critic shows up, which is of course really enjoyable, but somehow it’s not as exciting as Keineth, or Highacres, or Red-Robin. With those, I felt like Abbot made a formulaic premise seem fresh and new. Here, she’s just competent and convincing — no bad thing. I’d be really happy with this book from anyone else.