Read In My Mother's House by Margaret McMullan Online


In My Mother's House is a beautiful, haunting, and expertly told novel about a daughter’s obsession to understand her mother’s commitment to silence about their family’s experiences during WWII Vienna. The story of Elizabeth and her mother Jenny is remarkable for its fullness of details: the pieces of family silver the grandmother mails to Jenny, piece by piece, overIn My Mother's House is a beautiful, haunting, and expertly told novel about a daughter’s obsession to understand her mother’s commitment to silence about their family’s experiences during WWII Vienna. The story of Elizabeth and her mother Jenny is remarkable for its fullness of details: the pieces of family silver the grandmother mails to Jenny, piece by piece, over the years; Jenny’s vivid memories of her uncle’s viola d’amore lessons; the smell of the wood floors in the family's Vienna home. It's an emotional story of what is inherited from one generation to the next....

Title : In My Mother's House
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312318253
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

In My Mother's House Reviews

  • Dale Harcombe
    2018-11-02 09:48

    Three and a half stars.This is a poignant novel, beautifully written as it tells the stories of two women - Genevieve and her daughter Elizabeth. Sadly it is another book that shows a difficult mother and daughter relationship threaded with distance and lack of communication. During her life Genevieve refuses to divulge much to her daughter of her life in Vienna and experiences during World War 2. This is not a fast paced novel but it is one that gently draws the reader into the story. The narrative is also written with an eye to small moments like the description in the church service on page 139. It is a story of memory, change, loss, love, faith and differences. While I enjoyed it, I still felt disengaged from the characters. Whether this was a deliberate device from the writer to emphasise the estrangement between mother and daughter or whether it was just me and my mood at the time, I’m not sure. Definitely worth reading though to give some perspective on what others have gone through and the way family shapes a person.I really liked the understated cover and the way the cutlery plays its part in the narrative.

  • Karen
    2018-10-31 08:24

    I really enjoyed this book. Much like Elizabeth, I am hungry for the stories of my ancestors and yet they have always been just out of reach, with only scraps of stories being left of the reams I know there must have been. The roots of our tree were once strong, but now there are no Ridings beyond this day. I mother-daughter-father relationship in this story are very real and I appreciate the complexity of that triangle. Some of my favorite quotes:p.9 I don't want quote other people here. I don't want to sound like my father. I want to tell you my story but I am father's child, and sometimes we must take from the past what we can. p.98 I looked at the picture of my great-grandmother again. I missed her. I missed my great-grandmother. I missed writing to her and thinking about what I would say when I visited her every spring. I missed the connection she provided me to my mother's past. p.152-153 ...and I wondered if my grandfather's memory of it bore any resemblance to reality, if his recollections were like the reverse side of a tapestry-virtually the same as the front, save for a few loose threads and some knotted yarn. p.209 (not so much the quote as the idea it conveys)In the Bible, people are never said to be just mean or unjust; they're never just plain wrong. No, it is always said that their hearts harden. p.232 My mother had once said to me almost accusingly, "Look, you're not a survivor. You're not even a survivor's child." But, just then I felt I was a survivor, and in a way, I was. I was never intended to exist. I thought: I am the ghost of all those who have died.p.251-252 The farthest point that can be seen clearly with the eye in a completely relaxed state is called the far point. The near point is the nearest point to the eye at which clear vision is possible. When the eye is at rest, we say it is focused for infinity...I am focused for infinity...I am at rest and focused on infinity. Certainly there is a degree of nobility in this waiting. I am respectful of what is to come-whatever it is. I want to be ready and attentive to its mystery and greatness. (FAVORITE QUOTE!)p. 252 is a loss you don't get over so much as you get used to having.p.257 You brought me back something I thought I had lost a long time ago, and i knew that if you did not know about it, it would be lost again...Sometimes it takes a lifetime to rebuild the trust in human nature that you think you lost. I decided then and there to write you a notebook of my recollections and tell you everything I could from my spotty, wavy memory before it all disappears...My mother died without ever having told me who and what she really was. I realize the consequences of not knowing such things now. I will not do this to you. I write these memories down...for your eyes, so that you may see my past and your future...My memories are what I want most to leave you.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-05 09:21

    Distance in any sort of a relationship where there once was none hurts, confuses, and, even after it's repaired, remains with us. It is this experience that Margaret McMullan describes in her novel In My Mother's House. The novel revolves around one family's history with the Nazi occupation of Austria, but it's not really about that. McMullan seems to center on how the Engel de Baszi family was affected by the war, but underneath she weaves a tale of their family history and how it is passed down through the generations. The real story is what this history, or the withholding of it, does to the psyches of the members involved.McMullan develops these themes using the dual perspectives of a mother and her daughter; the mother, Jenny, writing a letter to her daughter, and the daughter, Elizabeth, simply narrating from her own point of view. Thus, there is no real "plot" per say – the storyline remains relatively flat. There is no rise of a climax or fall of a closing. The book is moreso an exploration of relationships and their twisting complexities. The most noticeable aspect about the novel is that I felt very detached from both protagonists. Perhaps McMullan wrote them like this purposefully, so that the reader could feel as the characters did toward each other. If so, she is a very talented writer. But regardless, it had the effect of preventing me from feeling sympathy or empathy toward them. My emotions remained unmoved, which undercut a story so beautifully written. Maybe it was because of this that I had a hard time of accepting Elizabeth's coping method as realistic. I just couldn't put myself into her shoes enough to get to the point where I felt like that would be a reasonable reaction. In My Mother's House is worth picking up for its examination of relationships, but it won't blow you away.

  • Beverly
    2018-10-29 12:24

    This book is written by Margaret McMullan who is a local author here in southern Indiana. She is going to be at our local library tomorrow for a book discussion and so I wanted to read her book and then go enjoy the discussion. I think this is a beautifully written book. It is told from 2 different voices--Jenny, who was born in Vienna and her daughter, Elizabeth who was born in America. Jenny is never close to her own parents and prefers to remain silent regarding her past and so Elizabeth is frustrated because she doesn't really know her grandparents or why her mother is the way she is. The 2 narratives alternate and the stories circle closer and closer to each other. It is an interesting exploration of 2 generations trying to understand each other.

  • Erika Nerdypants
    2018-10-23 13:27

    This is essentially a mother-daughter story, but it is also so much more. The book challenges what we think of faith, of relationships, of life itself. I was hooked from the first page, and although I have read several books since reading this one, I am still thinking of the characters and their story. Having grown up in Austria, 20 years after the war made this an especially poignant read for me. It made me wonder about all those friendly grandfathers I met growing up. Who were they during the war?

  • Jean
    2018-10-20 15:24

    There was something very compelling about this book but also something incomplete. I found myself with a strange feeling when the book ended, as though the author was backing off of the ending or leaving something out. It was such a delicious book altogether though, I would recommend it to World War II fiction fans, mother-daughter readers, contemporary fiction fictions, perhaps. The changes in time, place and character were very well marked.

  • Laura
    2018-10-20 16:32

    i picked this up at the library, its a story of a jewish/catholic family who moved from vienna during wwii to america-- the tensions, decisions, betrayals, and bravery of a devisive family history thats intriguing. it's also very descriptive of vienna during the holocaust. i liked it, but didn't LOVE it...

  • Clay
    2018-11-15 15:21

    Told by mother and daughter in alternating chapters, Austrian Jewish emigré Genevieve and her American daughter Elizabeth struggle to understand the family's troubled World War II past and confused post-war identity. The mother's chapters and story are stronger, and the unfocused ending would have benefited from fewer epiphanies and a tighter edit.

  • Jeanine
    2018-10-20 11:24

    I am really enjoying this book by McMullan. It is a sharp contrast to the teen book I read by her titled "Cashay." I love books that are told from different perspectives and this one provides the reader with two - the mother and daughter.

  • Margery
    2018-10-16 13:25

    Historical views of Vienna circa the 1930's and 40's. An interesting story.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-03 11:24

    really three and a half stars