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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Daughters Of The House’ by Michele Roberts

It was a changeable house. Sometimes it felt safe as a church, and sometimes it shivered then cracked apart.

A sloping blue slate roof held it down. Turrets at the four corners wore pointed blue hats. The many eyes of the house were blinded by white shutters.

What bound the house was skin. A wall of gristle a soldier could tear open with his bare hands. Antionette laughed. She was buried in the cellar under a heap of sand. Her mouth was stuffed full of torn-up letters and broken glass but she was tunnelling her way out like a mole. Her mouth bled from the corners. She laughed a gutteral laugh, a Nazi laugh………

I don’t think that this house would ever feel safe to me – all that talk of pointed hats and blind eyes.

A trip to the cellar would definitely be out of the question !!

I wonder what other eerie goings on happen in the house and what, if anything, the significance of the “gutteral Nazi laugh” is, given that soldiers are also mentioned?

To read the full premise available for ‘Daughters Of The House’, simply click on the book image and you will be linked to the Amazon entry.


A picture button for book beginnings at Rose City ReaderWould the first few lines of your book make you want to read on?

If so, would you like to share them with us, (without revealing too many spoilers of course) ?

Click here and visit your host, Gilion @ Rose City Reader

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Don’t forget that Gilion and all the other contributors to this meme love to hear from you, so why not leave a comment or two at the same time?

I can’t wait to do a little blog hopping myself and check out all the great Book Beginnings you have!


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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • Wow. Not knowing the premise of this book (I’m going to have to read more about it), I find this to be a very bizarre opening! Still, it piques my curiosity. Especially the latter part about Antionette.

    I’m close to finishing up Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon. Here’s the opening paragraph:
    “His wife was determined to march him to the country club this Saturday evening. Worse, he’d have to stuff himself into his old tux like sausage into a casing.”

    • Hi Kelly,

      As the house in the excerpt, is in a France recently left by occupying Germans after the Second World War, I am wondering if Antionette was either a prisoner of the Nazis, who had been tortured and buried alive in the cellar … Or if Antoinette was in fact a French collaborator, who had either served her purpose with the occupying Nazis, or had been revealed as a traitor by her own kind, who had meted out their own form of punishment?

      Either way, an intriguing and interesting journey so far!

      I don’t tend to read too many ‘cozy’ mysteries and stories, as I prefer my mysteries and thrillers to be a little more gutsy and … yes, I suppose violent! However, every once in a while, it is good to lighten the mood a little and this series sounds like just the thing to do it.

      I am a bit concerned that I really need to read the series in order, just so that I know who all the characters are and what their relationships with each other stack up like. However your short excerpt already had me smiling, at the picture in my head of this slightly rotund man, squashing himself into a tuxedo which once fitted him, before he added all those extra years and pounds … I know just how he feels 🙂

      Thanks for sharing and ‘Happy Reading’

    • Hi Anne,

      It will definitely be interesting to see how the author describes a guttural Nazi laugh, whilst still maintaining some political correctness!!

      The book proper, is set in France just after the Second World War, so I am wondering if this was a house that was occupied by the Nazis during the war and Antoinette was a victim of their brutality?

      Thanks for the comment, I always appreciate your visits 🙂

    • Hi Margaret,

      This part of the storyline is only just beginning to unfold, so as yet I am unable to answer your question. Perhaps Antionette had been forced to eat some important document and then was made to eat glass, on the basis that she would never be able to remove the paper from her mouth to show it to anyone?

      This is indeed, one of the strangest and most eerie book openings I have come across for some while, but it was definitely intriguing enough to make me want to read on and so far I haven’t been disappointed.

      Thank you for taking the time to visit and leave a comment, you are always welcome 🙂

    • Hi Sherry,

      The more I am getting into the story, the better it is!

      As you might expect from a Booker Prize Finalist, the writing is totally descriptive and immersive, with the switch in emphasis back and forth, from the creepy and mysterious undertones of the past, to the present day bonding between the two cousins, being seamless and attentive to detail.

      Thanks for stopping by with your comments and ‘Happy Reading’ 🙂

    • Ah! Kathy, but for me, that’s the intrigue of the first few lines of a book 🙂

      For some, including me I have to say, the opening paragraph or two, should be as good in writing as the cover is in imagery. However often, and especially if the book has a prologue at its beginning, those initial words might bear little resemblance to the storyline, when taken in context.

      Although the opening lines of ‘Daughters Of the House’ do not state that they are indeed a form of prologue, I am assuming this to be the case, as the rest of the story, so far anyway, is not nearly so eerie and disturbing as today’s feature suggests!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Enjoy your reading week 🙂

    • Hi Sandra,

      Whilst I wouldn’t exactly describe the story so far as joyous, the grim opening does belie the intriguing tale and the unfolding relationship between the two main protagonists.

      It may still not appeal to you after, however I do recommend that you check out the full premise, you might be surprised.

      Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate your comments 🙂

  • I absolutely love the beginning! I mean, what’s even going on there? I definitely want to know more and I’d keep reading until I had all the answers. I’ve put this one on my TBR list, thanks for introducing it to me! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hope you have a great week!
    My Friday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    • Hi Juli,

      I was beginning to think that I was the only one intrigued by those opening lines, so it is good to know that ‘Daughters Of The House’ appeals to someone else as well 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to check out this week’s post, I really appreciate your comment.

      Have a good weekend and ‘Happy Reading’ 🙂

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I don’t think that the book is as bad as everyone seems to think it is from those opening lines, although I can see how some might be put off by them.

      The description of the house really had me spooked, especially the part about “The many eyes of the house were blinded by white shutters.” I can just imagine little cracks and slits in the shutters, with loads of eyes peering out …. Ugh!

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your weekend 🙂

  • “Her mouth was stuffed full of torn-up letters and broken glass but she was tunnelling her way out like a mole. Her mouth bled from the corners.”…are you sure Stephen King didn’t write this one? 🙂
    And yet the cover looks so cheerful.

    • Hi Naida,

      I guarantee that Stephen King is nowhere in sight, although you might be forgiven for thinking those lines come straight from the script of a horror film !

      In fact, the relationship between two girls is the mainstay of the storyline, although there are more than enough lies, secrets and hidden truths, to be discovered and to fill many pages.

      The reviews for this one have been somewhat mixed, however, having almost finished reading, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it, even though it may not have been one of those great, never to be forgotten stories.

      Thanks for stopping by with your comment, I always value your opinion 🙂

Written by Yvonne