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The Paper House by [Spargo-Ryan, Anna]
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The Paper House Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Kindle Edition, 31 May 2016
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Length: 260 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product description

Product Description

"Gorgeously written and genuinely assured, The Paper House is a moving and viscerally real portrait of family bonds pushed to their limits ... Anna Spargo-Ryan is a rising star." Jo Case, author of Boomer and Me: A memoir of motherhood, and Asperger's

And then I was pregnant, and we realised we had no space for a baby.

We looked at all kinds of houses: big, new ones with columns and render; little cottages with beaten weatherboard; a yellow brick monstrosity with a paved yard where there should have been grass. But we were drawn to the rolling water. And our heart stayed behind when we left.

Heather and Dave have found the perfect place to raise their first child. The house has character, but it's the garden that really makes it: red-faced impatiens, pockmarked gums, six upright pittosporums to keep the neighbours out. It's a jungle. A hiding place. A refuge.

And then, without warning, that life is over.

Heartbreaking, fearless, and ablaze with a coruscating beauty all its own, The Paper House tells the story of a woman sinking into the depths of grief, and the desperate efforts of her loved ones to bring her up for air. A sharp-eyed, bittersweet depiction of the love between parents and children, and the havoc that love can wreak.

MORE PRAISE FOR THE PAPER HOUSE

"Gorgeously written and genuinely assured, The Paper House is a moving and viscerally real portrait of family bonds pushed to their limits - and the fragility and resilience at the heart of a struggle with grief, loss and mental illness. Anna Spargo-Ryan is a rising star." Jo Case, author of Boomer and Me: A memoir of motherhood, and Asperger's

"... a strong debut novel from a fascinating new voice in Australian fiction, which will appeal to fans of Jessie Cole, Kirsten Tranter and Michelle de Kretser." Books + Publishing

"Spargo-Ryan is a young writer to watch ... She is not afraid to delve into difficult areas and is open about her own experience of mental illness. Her writing in this novel really sings - the descriptions are beautiful, quirky and wholly original." Readings

"The Paper House is a stunning piece of literature ... A ground-breaking new book perfectly describes one woman's struggle with her own mental health after the loss of her baby." Australian Women's Weekly


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Picador Australia (31 May 2016)
  • Sold by: Macmillan (AU)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01CNAJ2M6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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An exploration of how we humans, in our privileged lives, are so poorly equipped to deal with the ravines that open in our lives.
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I struggled a bit to finish this, but was glad I did. I found Noel a bit much but the other characters delightful
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drivel
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The Paper House is a stunning, heart-shattering read. Full of prose like: "And over the top of the house, the morning sun came like glancing lightning, the suggestion of daylight," Anna Spargo-Ryan weaves poetry and story together to create a book full of bittersweet whimsy, sadness and ultimately, love. Told through the lens of a character experiencing an acute mental health episode, the reader is taken on a dream-like journey throughout which sharp, clear, empathetic moments are experienced. Chapter one is a masterpiece, perfectly setting the stage for the almost-too-real story to come. I devoured this book in a matter of hours, unable to put it down. Highly recommended for anyone who delights in beautiful language without sacrificing depth or meaning.
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My daughter alerted me to this book because the subject matter relates to the subject matter in my own novel, Absent Children. However, although Paper House is also set in my old home town of Mt Eliza, the book differs greatly from Absent Children in other aspects.
I really enjoyed reading it, although ‘enjoyed’ doesn’t feel like the right word for a story about a depressed woman slipping into serious mental illness after her baby girl is stillborn, but apart from the depressing subject matter, the novel has many positives.
The beginning was slow to grab me, but the interesting style of writing kept me reading until I was gripped with the desire to read on for answers to the questions that arose for me. The writing was visceral, abandoned, and connected me with Heather, the mourning mother, deeply.
The chapters alternate between the adult Heather’s viewpoint, and the viewpoint of Heather as a child. It is through the child’s voice that the reader learns about her mother's mental health issues..
The story is propped up with some colourful characters, especially Heather’s neighbour, Syliva, the local storekeeper, Rupert, and Noel, the man who lives at the bottom of her garden. And orbiting around her, worrying and trying to care for her is her sister, Fleur, her loving and patient husband, Dave, and her dad.
I imagine this is not a book that everyone would enjoy, but I’d highly recommend having a look at it if you’re at all intrigued. Don’t judge it too quickly, because if you’re like me, it takes a few chapters before it holds you fast in it’s grip.
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This book is hard. This book reaches into your chest, pulls your beating heart out, stomps on it, and then puts it back. But it wraps you in prose so beautiful it makes you weep, and a story with depth, class and truth. The characters are fully realised, and in a story that could have been nothing but cliche, it is joyfully devoid of any. Incredible book - make everyone you know read it.
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.Armed with a fascinating group of characters, Spargo-Ryan already had something quite special on her hands, but it’s her lovely, flowing writing style that really sold the book to me. Presenting everything from baking with Sylvia, to muddled flashbacks of Heather’s deceased mother, to visions that straddle a thin line between whimsical and unnerving, The Paper House never once lost my attention. It’s a sensual feast, one sees and feels everything as Heather does.

It’s worth noting that Spargo-Ryan takes care never to actively diagnose Heather or her mother, focusing on the individuals behind the illness, rather than trying to give a name to symptoms so intensely personal. It’s a clever move, given that mental illnesses can be hard to identify or pin down, simply because no two experiences of them are the same. In avoiding a direct diagnosis, taking the reader away from the doctor’s surgery and further into Heather’s head, the journey becomes that much more personal – we are experiencing things along with Heather, we share her disdain, disbelief, and frustration, without ever having to define it in terms of a particular set of symptom-based parameters. It’s a nice touch, and one that makes this book very accessible.

Anna Spargo-Ryan’s The Paper House is a stunning debut, capturing a sense of loss I personally didn’t think I’d be able to relate to, and turning it into an engaging and emotional read. It’s sad, yes, dreadfully sad, but it’s also funny, peculiar, and, eventually, full of hope.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Pan Macmillan/The AU Review in exchange for my review*
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