The Household Spirit
by Tod Wodicka
Published by Jonathan Cape
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming
'Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours...' This is what went through my head as I came to the last page of Tod Wodicka's The Household Spirit.
Howie Jeffries and Emily Phane are neighbours, living side by side in the only two houses along route 29 in upstate New York since Emily was born next door. Times have changed - Emily's grandparents, who owned the house have died, and Howie, once a newly-wed with a young daughter is now divorced, living on his own.
Both Howie and Emily think there's something wrong next door - Howie is a recluse who dreams of sailing away from himself while Emily has developed a passion for nocturnal gardening and has sleep paralysis.
The small space between their houses could literally be the size of the Grand Canyon as they have hardly spoken to each other over the years...
The Household Spirit is a book about accepting friendship when times are tough, and the realisation that you do not need to deal with the crap that life throws at you on your own. These two unlikely characters are pushed together and they must save each other and themselves from falling over the brink.
Wodicka explores the way people isolate themselves when times are tough and the way people can slip from society and down into the cracks without realising it. Both characters must let go of the past, and not let the past events and relationships define the present or even define the future.
Howie and Emily live outside the confines of society, and are struggling to find their way back to reality - they have lost their definition and purpose in life. I found The Household Spirit refreshing as a lot of novels have characters who want to break out of the confines of society to find an identity.
Wodicka's reminded of a Wes Anderson film with its quirky characters, socially awkward situations and bitter humour. If you like Wes Anderson films then you're going to love The Household Spirit.
Now lets all sing together - 'Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours...'
You can buy The Household Spirit from your favourite bookshop.
I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher.