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The House We Grew Up In: A Novel
by Lisa Jewell

Published: 2014-08-12
Hardcover : 400 pages
5 members reading this now
46 clubs reading this now
3 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 4 members
“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” (Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You).

Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and ...
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Introduction

“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” (Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You).

Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together each night. Everybody in town gushes over the two girls, who share their mother’s apple cheeks and wide smiles. Of the boys, lively, adventurous Rory can stir up trouble, moving through life more easily than little Rhys, his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet gangly man, but it’s their mother, Lorelei, a beautiful free spirit with long flowing hair and eyes full of wonder, who spins at the center.

Time flies in those early years when the kids are still young. Lorelei knows that more than anyone, doing her part to freeze time by protecting the precious mementos she collects, filling the house with them day by day. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She insists on hanging every single piece of art ever produced by any of the children, to her husband’s chagrin.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy occurs. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, found new relationships, and, in Meg's case, created families of their own. Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband, her children, and has been living as a recluse for six years. It seems as though they’d never been The Bird Family at all, as if loyalty were never on the table. But then something happens that calls them home, back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Delving deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the gripping story of a family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

The House We Grew Up In

1

Tuesday 2nd November 2010

Hi, Jim!

Well, I must say, I didn’t think for a minute you’d be called something earthy like Jim! The Barbour and natty waistcoat in your profile photo make you look more like a Rupert or a Henry, something serious with two syllables, you know! And talking of syllables, and since you asked, no, I’m not really called Rainbowbelle. OF COURSE NOT! I’m called Lorelei and my name has three or four syllables, depending on how you say it. (My parents named us after mythical maidens. My sister is called Pandora. There was an Athena, but she was stillborn, so you know.) Anyway. Lor-a-lay-ee. Or Lor-a-lay. I’m not fussy really. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Jim and Lorelei meet on the internet and form a close relationship. Do you think that the internet is a helpful social tool for people who find themselves isolated or do you think it can make them more vulnerable?

2. Lorelei and Vicky’s relationship comes as a shock to the family. How would you describe the dynamic between them? Do you think they are both in the relationship for the same reasons?

3. Rory travels to Spain and then to Thailand. Do you think he is traveling to try to escape his problems? Why do you think he finds it so hard to face up to what happened?

4. Beth travels to Australia and starts a new life. In what ways do you think this decision to move abroad is similar to Rory’s? What do you think triggers her subsequent breakdown?

5. Molly is quite open-minded and accepting of Colin and Kayleigh’s relationship. Do you think she demonstrates a more modern outlook of a younger generation? How would you feel about it? Do you think Colin or Kayleigh are at fault?

6. Beth and Bill’s affair puts at risk a lot of the relationships in the family. Why do you think Beth embarks on a relationship with Bill? Do you think the motivation for the relationship is the same for both Beth and Bill?

7. Beth describes her room in Sydney as “a stage set . . . where I lived when I was pretending to be a person.” What do you think she means by that? Do you think it was important for her to live independently away from her family before returning home?

8. Why do you think Colin and Lorelei’s marriage breaks down? How much do you think Rhys’s death plays a part? And Lorelei’s illness? Do you think the problems lie deeper than that?

9. All of the Bird family feel guilt to some extent about Rhys’s death. Do you think this guilt is the main factor behind the gradual breakup of the family? What other factors do you think are involved?

10. Colin and Rory discuss Lorelei and her tendency to live in denial. Why do you think she refuses to accept she is unhappy?

11. Lorelei’s hoarding problem becomes worse and worse over time. Why do you think some people begin hoarding? Do you think only a certain type of person is susceptible or could anyone become a hoarder?

12. Colin, Vicky, Meg and Beth all have different approaches when confronting Lorelei about her hoarding. When Colin and Vicky try to help Lorelei clear out some of her house she reacts very angrily. Why do you think she reacts so strongly? How do you think you would try and help Lorelei? What do you think would be the best way to deal with it?

13. The members of the Bird family are affected in different ways by Lorelei’s hoarding. What repercussions do you think hoarding can have on the person’s family and friends?

14. Lorelei collects old sweet wrappers and old wrapping paper. Why do you think hoarding often focuses on collecting items others would see as worthless?

15. Eventually Lorelei can no longer sleep in her bed or cook in her kitchen because of the severity of her hoarding. As a compulsive disorder, do you think it has anything in common with other addictions, such as alcoholism? Do you think it would affect family members in a similar way?

16. Did reading this book make you reconsider your relationship with your family? In what ways did the love relationships each family member had mirror their relationship with Rhys?

17. What scene in The House We Grew Up In had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Jojo Moyes

“Clever, intelligent, and believable on a subject few of us really understand. Lorrie is one of the most vivid—and complex—characters I've read in years. Wonderful.”

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Me_eek (see profile) 11/20/19

 
by KMR613 (see profile) 09/08/19

 
by tracybowman (see profile) 08/24/19

 
by krisshannon (see profile) 05/28/19

 
  "Quirky, Dysfunctional Family Tale"by DGriffin (see profile) 02/13/17

The Birds are a truly dysfunctional family. Lisa Jewell provided pain-staking insight as to how this family comes apart. Some tough and unpredictable twists keeps the story moving along.

 
by Ljwagoner (see profile) 12/17/16

Themes of family disjunction, secrets & hoarding prevail in this book. The author told the story in a creative way by using the Mother's emails to a stranger interwoven in the narrative. It ... (read more)

 
  "Talk about dysfunctional!"by cindywiser (see profile) 05/11/16

Just when you think this family has dealt with every twisted issue possible - another one rears it's head. This book will definitely generate discussion.

 
by STorg (see profile) 11/19/15

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