“The House at the End of Hope Street” by Menna van Praag

The House at the End of Hope Street is not a place you will consciously walk by. It’s also not a place you will acknowledge with wonder as you walk past. Instead, The House at the End of Hope Street is where you will find yourself when you are one step away from infinite darkness. Once it opens its doors to you, you have ninety-nine days to find your way. You will not have to do it on your own, though. The house and its inhabitants will help you find the strength in yourself.

Speaking of inhabitants, we are not only talking about Peggy, Carmen, Greer and Alba. The walls of The House at the End of Hope Street are covered by portraits of previous guests that now breathe through them, sharing their knowledge – and sometimes bickering with one another. There’s Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf… Along with the ghost from the Abbot who first opened the house, they are the ones running the show.

“I thought it was supposed to take care of people, I thought it was supposed to help.”
“It does its best,” Stella says. “But it can’t save everyone. It shows people the way, it gives them a little nudge now and then, but the house can’t do everything. And some people don’t have what it takes to be happy. It’s not an easy thing, you know. It takes great courage and determination, to keep looking for light in all the darkness of life.”

I really enjoyed how Menna van Praag made the magic approachable. Even though the house did help these women, or at least tried, the steps were still the women’s to take. I believe that is why the book seems to exhale hope at every word. Even though there’s no such house in reality, authors do still talk to us through books. So maybe finding our way is not such an impossible mission…

“You’re gorgeous. You glow. You’re lit from within.”
Peggy brushes a wisp of white hair out of her eyes. “Does that illuminate all my wrinkles?”
Harry nods. “So I can see every smile you’ve ever had, I can hear the echoes of every giggle.”

Full of delicious recommendations that will certainly keep me busy for a long time, The House at the End of Hope Street is definitely a must read. There’s mystery, romance, literature, a very particular sense of humour… I believe there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. Oh, and what seems to be the world’s greatest chocolate cake.


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