It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.
From his earliest days as a "practice baby" through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney's Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles' London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored - and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.
Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.
Lisa Grunwald takes Henry's extraordinary beginnings and digs deep to carefully construct the strained cords of his early attachments. Carefully working the tension of Henry's liaisons, Grunwald expertly leaves the reader in possession of the damaged emotional compass Henry will use to plot the colorful course of his adult life. Regardless, as the irresistible Henry moves into adulthood, I was left wondering whether or not he is just charming and irresistible enough to excuse his lack of tack and bad behavior. If you're not easily wooed, you might find yourself questioning if Henry is man enough for you. (Reviewed by Megan Shaffer).
... a compelling web of characters and emotions that will please will please the author's fans and readers interested in novels with emotional depth.
Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week
Starred Review. Grunwald nails the era just as she ingeniously uses Henry and the women in his life to illuminate the heady rush of sexual freedom (and confusion) that signified mid-century life.
Starred Review. The near-omniscient narration perfectly suits this story, which often reads like a rueful but wry case study of nurture as nightmare.
Linda Fairstein, author of Lethal Legacy and Hell Gate
Brilliant and original, heartwarming and heartbreaking, this stunning novel is as irresistible as Henry House.
At first I thought it was just Henry House who was completely irresistible, but then I realized I couldn't put Grunwald's truly extraordinary novel down. Get ready for a story, an adventure, and a cast of characters you'll never forget.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Melissa An interesting look at RAD This book is a must read for adoptive parents. It describes RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). I thought it was very interesting.
All it took was the unexpected image of a cute, bare-bottomed baby to set the wheels of
The Irresistible Henry House in motion. While Lisa Grunwald was researching another book, she happened upon an online exhibition detailing the history of Cornell University's home economics program which ran from 1900-1969. Originally established as a way to apply science in areas of home, farm, and family, Cornell's home ec. program implemented the use of live babies to mirror real-life domestic settings.
Incredible? Though it's too outrageous to imagine the use of a live baby as a teaching tool in today's educational settings, that's precisely what went on in the "practice apartments" of Cornell's home economics program back in 1919. According to the Cornell site, the first practice baby was named Dicky Domecon, short for "domestic economy."
Infused with the lyricism and take-no-prisoners storytelling for which T.C. Boyle is justly famous, this is a surprisingly rich, allusive, and non-sentimental look at the ideals of the 60's generation and their impact on today's radically transformed world.
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