Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled House of a Hundred Secrets. The story centers on Laurelfield, a country estate in Chicago's North Shore, and is set in three time periods 1999, 1956, and 1929 in that order.
Though the novel starts in 1999, the true story of Laurelfield begins in 1900 when August Devohr built the house for his wife Violet, who shortly thereafter killed herself in its attic. Violet's beauty and sadness, coupled with her enigmatic death infuses the house with mystery. This sort of drama is not uncommon in the Devohr family, whose insanity, irresponsibility with money, and penchant for divorce is widely known. By the 1920s, the Devohrs leave Laurelfield and relegate it to artists, making the estate a refuge for writers and painters. However, by the late 1950s, Laurelfield has again ...
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