The House of Rumour: Book summary and reviews of The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott

The House of Rumour

A Novel

By Jake Arnott

The House of Rumour
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2013,
    448 pages.

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Book Summary

Spies, science-fiction writers, and new wave icons populate this dazzling novel, which U.K. critics have already compared to such modern classics as Don DeLillo's Underworld.

According to the Guardian: "The House of Rumour perhaps most resembles The Da Vinci Code, rewritten by an author with the gifts of characterisation, wit, and literacy."

Jake Arnott's decade-spanning, continent-hopping novel mixes fascinating real-life figures with fictional characters as it moves briskly from WWII spy intrigue (featuring Ian Fleming) and occultism (Aleister Crowley) to the West Coast pulp science-fiction set (Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein — even L. Ron Hubbard) and the '80s U.K. new wave music scene.

Larry Zagorski, a S.F. writer turned U.S. fighter pilot, searches for connections between what seem like disparate events while conspiracy theories begin to suggest the possibility of a single force behind them.

Jake Arnott has written smart, best-selling crime fiction in the U.K. for years, but The House of Rumour marks an exciting shift - it's a genre-melding modern classic.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The House of Rumour. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

Did The House of Rumour change the way you think about "official" history?
i am not sure that we ever get the real history reported to us. it is always slanted toward a political view or a desire outcome. I did find the blend of real history and pure fiction. I wonder how much of that (pure fiction) is actually passed ... - sarahc

Did you enjoy the book?
I cannot say that I am enjoying the book. I put it down for a while and read something else, for one of my other book clubs. Strangely enough, tarot cards played a role in that own too. now on this, my second attempt to complete The House of Rumor, ... - juliaa

Does Arnott’s blend of history and fiction remind you of any other authors you have read?
It actually reminds me in, that sense, of a lot of historical fiction I have read. Off the top of my head I can think of two books by Tatiania de Rossney and, a new one by Jodi Picoult and a recent one by Barbara Quick that blend history and fiction ... - joyces

Have you read much in the genre of science fiction? Was this a positive or negative influence on your experience with 'House of Rumour'?
I have read a fair amount of science fiction, but I don't feel that such was an influence on how I felt about The House of Rumor. I don't view this book as a particularly good representative of sci fi or historical fiction, or any other genre that ... - juliaa

How do the various characters look for belonging in various groups and to what extent are those groups helpful or harmful to them?
I believe all of the characters were lost in some way. Each of them made bad life choices and found groups of people who were in the same boat. More often that not the boats sank. Everyone was looking for some higher meaning to life/some higher ... - ylhoff

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Whenever he's got a new book out I drop everything..." - David Bowie

"A novel that combines the pleasures of genre fiction and the thematic richness of literary fiction, while blurring the line between the two and exploding the very concept of genre." - Kirkus

"Jake Arnott's The House of Rumour [is a] thought-provoking puzzle-book of interlocking and overlapping stories." - Chicago Tribune Printers Row

"A conspiracy thriller filled with bewildering connections, dark conjecture and arcane information, The House of Rumour perhaps most resembles The Da Vinci Code, rewritten by an author with the gifts of characterisation, wit and literacy." – Guardian

"Starred Review. A novel that combines the pleasures of genre fiction and the thematic richness of literary fiction, while blurring the line between the two and exploding the very concept of genre." - Kirkus

"This is a novel that demands participation from the reader, a willingness to engage with the various stories and characters to create the necessary imaginative leaps linking them all together. When finished with the book, readers are left with the sense they have been away for a while and the world they had left behind while reading has somehow shifted." - The New York Journal of Books

"I have always enjoyed Jake Arnott's glam-rock gangster novels, but they hardly prepared me for The House of Rumour. Confirming that the inter-linked short story is the coolest literary form du jour, Arnott shuffled narratives about science-fiction, Scientology, Eighties pop stars, doomed love, nuclear physics and the occult into a knowing, clever and intricately woven collection that deserves to rain on Cloud Atlas's parade or accompany Jennifer Egan on a visit to the goon squad. Brilliant and oddly moving, The House of Rumour deserved to win every prize going, including Eurovision." – James Kidd, "Books of the Year," - The Independent

"Like Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad or David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, its form uses interlinked short stories. The House of Rumour is a brilliant achievement that invites repeated readings." – The Independent

"A virtuoso blurring of fact and fantasy...Highly entertaining and perhaps even mind-expanding, Arnott's high-class conjuring act shows that truth really is stranger than fiction." – Sunday Times

"Jake Arnott's The House of Rumour is as ambitious and curiously constructed a novel as I have read in years, a linked collection of stories that brilliantly blends history with fiction." - Largehearted Boy

"[A] complicated crazy-quilt of a story, House of Rumour is fascinating as much for the way it draws connections (sometimes real, sometimes invented) between disparate subjects like the invention of James Bond and Virginia Woolf's suicide as for the story that Arnott is telling." - io9

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by ylhoff
What?
I really tried to like this book. It was like a long, winding discourse on science, war, sex, drugs, authorship and people whose lives were just messed up .. by themselves.

I give the author points for never losing the somewhat ephemeral tone of the novel ... even when switching gears from one story line to the next.

The story is not quite one thing or enough of the another to place it firmly in any particular genre.

However, this would be a great book for either a college course or a bookclub that loves an intellectual challenge.

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More Information

More Information

Jake Arnott is the author of The Long Firm, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, which was acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. It was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home and The Devil's Paintbrush. Both The Long Firm and He Kills Coppers have been made into widely praised TV dramas in the UK. Arnott lives in London. Visit him at http://jakearnott.com, and read an excerpt at Amazon

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