BookBrowse Reviews The Poet's House by Jean Thompson

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The Poet's House

by Jean Thompson

The Poet's House by Jean Thompson X
The Poet's House by Jean Thompson
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  • Published:
    Jul 2022, 320 pages

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An uplifting coming-of-age story about a young woman whose life is transformed by an older poet and her group of eccentric friends.

Seasoned author Jean Thompson's previous novels include A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, The Humanity Project and The Year We Left Home. The Poet's House received a solid average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from our First Impressions reviewers.

What the book is about:

The Poet's House by Jean Thompson is a charming coming-of-age story about Carla, who in her 20s has not found a comfortable nor assured fit with her life. In the space of one summer, Carla is embraced by the famous poet Viridian and her poet friends; and a new world of experience opens (Maureen R). Carla has no ambition to write, but she begins to push herself to explore new work opportunities in the "poetry biz"—despite conflicts with her boyfriend—and to gain important insights into poems, those who write them, and herself. She becomes the one in whom Viridian confides, indirectly, an important piece of information that will leave Carla with a key role to play in the poet's legacy (Janice P).

Readers expressed delight at how the book immersed them in the world of writing and poetry.

The Poet's House is a good title to read if you enjoyed Writers & Lovers by Lily King or Groundskeeping by Lee Cole. It brings the reader into the world of writers, in this case poets (Barbara S). Readers who like reading about writing will gobble this novel up in no time (we get to attend a writers' conference! for free!) but so will anyone else who enjoys fine, honest fiction (Helia R).

But some stressed that an affinity for poetry isn't necessary to finding the novel relatable.

I wasn't sure I would like this book. I am not a poet, nor do I necessarily enjoy poetry, or understand where it comes from within any poet. But I was wrong. I loved this book. Maybe it was because the main character is a young woman who is the antithesis of a poet, yet somehow finds herself embedded in the world of writers and poets and manages to stumble through it and endear herself within that world, ending up with a clearer understanding of herself and who she really is (Arden A). I think many readers will be able to relate to Carla's experience of growing and changing with the result of it causing friction in her preexisting relationships. Her discovery of a new passion, even one she has to really work at to understand and appreciate, made me want to find such a transformative experience in my own life (Elizabeth D).

A couple of readers mentioned that they had trouble forming an attachment to the characters and story.

The book started out as an interesting read with a lot of quirky characters. Unfortunately, the characters popped in and out so quickly that I didn't form an attachment to them (Donna W). I mostly enjoyed the plot but also sort of felt like I wasn't sure why I was reading the story. The characters were ok and maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea (Karla M).

For others, however, the novel's unique traits were a refreshing change of pace.

I enjoyed the book. It is a welcome break from dystopian and historical fiction that lines the bookstore shelves currently. It is truly original (Gina T). It is delightful and refreshing to read a novel where affairs of the heart take second place to the more compelling question "How should we live?" One where romance is found above all in the joy of learning to see poetry, and life, in a new way (Janice P).

In general, readers found a lot to love about The Poet's House, whether or not they were familiar with Thompson's previous work.

I am a Jean Thompson fan and was very much looking forward to reading her latest. It did not disappoint. The Poet's House is a very warm and welcoming work of fiction. Carla is lovably flawed (Cynthia V). What a delight it was to read this book! It has it all. Jean Thompson's characters, each distinct from one another, provide an understanding of poets, poetry, the lives of artists in general…This is a read that I have truly appreciated and will recommend to as many groups and people as possible. It prompted me to read more of Jean Thompson's novels (Lorraine D).

This review first ran in the August 3, 2022 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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