In My Mother's House

A Novel

Margaret McMullan

Thomas Dunne Books

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In My Mother's House is a beautiful, haunting, and elegantly crafted novel about a daughter's obsession to understand her mother's staunch commitment to silence about their family's experiences during World War II Vienna--and how they were able to escape.

Told in alternating voices (Elizabeth and her mother Jenny), the story is remarkable for its fullness and rich details: the pieces of family silver the grandmother mails to the family, piece by piece, over the years; Jenny's war-time memories of her uncle's viola d'amore lessons; the fragrant smell of the wood floors at the Hofzeile, the family's longstanding yellow home in Vienna.

As Elizabeth begins to fill the gaps of Jenny's troubled memory, she stumbles upon a family secret that ultimately reveals how it is that we inherit the things we do, from one generation to the next.

In My Mother's House is a poignant look at a family struggling to regain what took them generations to build and at what cost. It's an emotional, expertly told novel that proves that Margaret McMullan will soon join the ranks of writers such as Anita Shreve and Carol Shields.

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Book Excerpts

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Prologue

Have you ever heard anyone play a viola d'amore? If you play it right-if you can play it the way Uncle Rudi sometimes could-you can feel the sounds echo in the back of your throat. I don't think I ever really told you about my uncle Rudi. He could make extraordinary music. You play the row of strings on top just as you would a violin, but the second row of strings underneath catches and resonates the sounds. The strings underneath are called sympathetic strings and they are tuned in unison with the playing strings. The viola d'amore used to be in great demand in the seventeenth

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Praise for In My Mother's House

"Spinning like a two-sided medal, this exquisite novel alternates the voices of two women, and ultimately opposites start to merge: past and present, mother and daughter, Christianity and Judaism, bitterness and reconciliation. I salute Margaret McMullan's elegantly crafted prose, her beautiful restraint, her emotional honesty, and her storytelling power." --Phillip Lopate, editor of Writing New York

"Compelling . . . McMullan's fascinating account of the complexity of survival will haunt and strengthen its readers. Understanding the traumas of earlier generations is the key to Elizabeth's own liberation in this transporting novel." --Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Four Spirits

"A haunting and beautifully written novel about the great themes of memory and love. What a fine work this is. Margaret McMullan is a splendid new voice among us." --Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"Margaret McMullan's ability to storytell is a music she resonates against the heart's hard wisdom. In My Mother's House is an heirloom--one of those novels you pass on to everyone." --Dale Ray Phillips, author of My People's Waltz

"Beautifully written, evocative, and shot through with the voice of authenticity. It not only shows with great honesty the relationship between mothers and daughters, but also how the ghosts of our ancestors--good and bad--shadow our lives." --Naomi Ragen, author of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

"A type of archaeological dig performed within the dark pit of a family's loss, In My Mother's House is surprising in its power to quietly, gracefully, infect the reader with yearning for the places we once claimed but shall never have again." --Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion and the National Book Award-winning Easy in the Islands

"What an exquisite and elegant novel. This beautiful story of memory and identity, faith and family, proves that Margaret McMullan is the next gifted writer to watch." --Shirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Keepers of the House

"A lovely duet between mother and daughter, between past and future, between Europe and America, between memory and hope. McMullan's voice shines like old silver, polished rich and clear. It's a story of vision and blindness, speech and silence, and the healing that comes from time--it's a book about love." --Beth Lordan, author of And Both Shall Row

"In My Mother's House is like all the best fiction--inevitable, necessary, and finally, almost involuntarily, like music, precise and permanent in the soul. Hurrah for Ms. McMullan." --Barry Hannah, author of Airships

"A wonderful book-lush and dreamy and beautifully written." --William Harrison, author of Burton and Speke

"Graceful . . . It is the individual, private pain . . . that is skillfully given voice here by McMullan." - Boston Globe

"The two narrative threads blend into one harmonious story, proving that while we can leave a country, we can't escape our history." - Entertainment Weekly

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About the Author

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan is an English professor at the University of Evansville, Indiana, and the author of a previous novel, When Warhol Was Still Alive. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2001. Formerly an associate entertainment editor at Glamour, McMullan received her M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Southern Accents, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, and The Greensboro Review, among others.

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan

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Available Formats and Book Details

In My Mother's House
A Novel
Margaret McMullan

Award

Society of Midland Authors Book Awards - Nominee

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
March 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466866096
ISBN10: 1466866098
272 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
October 2004
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312318253
ISBN10: 0312318251
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages
$18.00
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Thomas Dunne Books

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