Other People’s Houses is a guilty pleasure read focusing on the relationships and drama of a group of people living in the same neighborhood. Francis runs the neighborhood carpool and is in a happy, boring marriage to Michael. Anne has a husband named Charlie and a lover named Richard. Iris wants another baby and is hiding this from her wife, Sara. Bill’s wife hasn’t been home in months for some unknown reason. One day, Francis walks in on Anne having an extramarital morning quickie. A few days later, Charlie throws Anne out of the house. Of course, word of the affair quickly travels through the community. Who could resist juicy gossip like that? Anne’s affair ends up affecting not just her and her family’s lives but also the lives of those around her as we watch the characters reevaluate and deal with their own secrets.
My main issue with this book was the unrealistic bits of dialogue and actions of some of the characters. I don’t know a lot of fourteen-year-old girls using the phrase “I must admit” or lamenting over their toes not being longer. I also had a hard time picturing an adult man with a law degree sitting in his child’s elementary school principal’s office sobbing over private family matters while the principal puts her arm around him and comforts him like a “little boy.” Lastly, maybe my mother was just over the top about keeping a clean house but does anybody really throw spaghetti on their ceiling and leave it there years? The unbelievability of parts of the book became almost maddening and unintentionally humorous to me at times.
Overall, the plot of the book is weak and the characters aren’t well developed. Many characters seem like they were added just to fill space in the book. Bill’s wife has left her husband and child, moved out, and hasn’t been seen in the neighborhood in months. Bill has to care for their child by himself. Iris is Francis’ cousin. Sara is Iris’ movie star wife. Iris has been hiding from Sara that she wants a second child because she’s scared of Sara’s reaction. That is about the extent of the character development and storyline for these characters. I was left wondering why they were there in the first place.
The book starts off with Francis as the main point of view but quickly jumps around to different characters completely without warning which gets confusing at times. The writing tries WAY too hard to be quirky and edgy which sometimes comes off feeling forced and cringey. If you’re easily offended by swear words and some crude humor then this is not going to be a good choice for you.
If you can look past the book’s obvious flaws, there are some parts that are genuinely funny. Any married person or parent will relate to the humor in this book. Is it typical, cliché married people humor? Yes, but it made me giggle at times so I don’t hate it for that. Is this book going to make you think? Not at all. This is one of those quick, easy books you might read by the pool or slip in between books with more substance to give yourself a bit of a breather and a change of pace.
PUBLICATION DETAILS: Penguin Publishing Group, April 3, 2018, 978-0399587924