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“House and Home” by Kathleen McCleary

I’m thrilled to be included as a host for TLC’s Virtual Book Tour of House and Home.

Although I’m the last stop on the tour, I’m no less excited to post my review and I waited until a few days ago to pose my questions to the author, Kathleen McCleary. I wanted to ask unique questions which the other tour stops hadn’t asked. 

The opening paragraph of House and Home completely peaked my interest and I wanted to know so much more about this woman, Ellen, whose love for her house could be called nothing less than an obsession. As I read the novel, I came to understand Ellen’s love for her home and found myself rooting for her to save the house, and the family, she loved so much.

Being married to someone in the military, I would never allow myself to fall “in love” with a house. As much as we move, it would be emotional suicide. All the military families I know, myself included, are very adept at making whatever home we’re in, the home we love now. If our homes were men, we’d be serial monogamist or as the song goes “Love the One You’re With.”

It was interesting to read of Ellen’s passion for her home, and in a way, it helped me relate to some of my civilian friends who’ve moved in the the last couple years from homes or places they love so much. Since I always look at a move as a chance for a new adventure and an opportunity to meet new people, I didn’t completely understand why my friends were distraught about their moves.

I like everything about House and Home; not just the story and the characters, but the look and feel of the book, too. The cover is so inviting and it’s a small book you can easily carry with you. If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Listed below are my interview questions for Kathleen McCleary and her answers. Having read about her on the other tour stops and reading her answers below, I’m as impressed with her as much as I’m impressed with her book:

1) You’ve mentioned your move from Oregon was a motivating factor for you to write the book about the pain of leaving a beloved home. Besides writing a book and getting published, what is the best thing that’s happened to you since your move to Virginia?
It’s hard to top writing a book and getting it published, since that’s been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me. But other highlights, aside from the blessings of having a healthy family, plenty to eat, and a lovely home (can’t forget what’s really important), would include coaching daughter number two’s Odyssey of the MInd team (and making some terrific friends in the process); seeing daughter number one shine onstage in her play last spring; and finally, the book launch party I had in July, which showed me how many truly wonderful people have been part of my journey here in Virginia. I have been amazed at all the support I’ve gotten from my friends and the community.

2) Hindsight is 20-20, and so, would you say the move was a positive thing for you and your family or would it have been better to stay in Oregon?

Argh! Do I have to answer this? Much as I love our friends in Virginia, and the warm welcome we’ve received from the community, I believe Oregon was an easier place to raise kids, and a place that I (as a somewhat intense and high-strung creative type) found easier and less stressful to live. I would love to hear from readers who have moved about how it’s worked out for them. It’s been four years for me and I still feel sometimes like I’ll never get over it!

3) What’s on your nightstand waiting to be read?  
I’ve got a pile, but the three at the top right now are Brunonia Barry’s “The Lace Reader,” which I’m reading with my book group; “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrid Undset, which I’m reading for the second time (the first time was twenty-some years ago); and Julie Andrews‘ autobiography, “Home.” All three are terrific reads.
4) What was the last book you read that made you laugh out loud?
 James Thurber‘s “My Life and Hard Times.” The well-known chapter “The Night the Bed Fell” has to be one of the funniest stories ever written. Bill Bryson always makes me laugh out loud, too. 

5) If House and Home were made into a movie, who would be your choice to play Ellen? And who would play her hunky husband, Sam?

I love this question! We had a lot of fun with this at a book group meeting recently. I think Diane Lane would make a great Ellen, because she can walk that fine line between comedy (and the book definitely is meant to be humorous at points) and drama. Or maybe Julia Roberts, now that she’s in her forties. I’ve had a harder time with Sam—Johnny Depp, maybe? Antonio Banderas? And personally I’ve always had a thing for Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. If he could do that unkempt look again and wear brown contact lenses he’d be a very hunky Sam. I’d love to hear what readers think. 

If you’ve moved recently, read the book (help “cast the movie”) or have a different question for Kathleen, please leave a comment. She’s interested in what you have to say. Thanks! 

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