Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of The House of Gentle Men by Kathy Hepinstall

The House of Gentle Men

by Kathy Hepinstall

The House of Gentle Men by Kathy Hepinstall X
The House of Gentle Men by Kathy Hepinstall
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2000, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2001, 354 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Every night, sad, damaged, overworked and unappreciated women make their way to the House of Gentle Men to find the solace and kindness they so desperately crave.

A virgin child dreamed a woman's dreams in the lush, somnolent backwoods of Louisianna. In a year of war, sixteen-year-old Charlotte embarked on a mission of love, only to be set upon by three sodiers in training in a lonely, isolated section of the forest. And thus was a young life destroyed and remade, leaving Charlotte silent and alone, save for something that now grew inside of her. And nine months later when a babe was born--a demon in her eyes--Charlotte abandoned it to the elements, knowing she could never bear to look upon it.

Most wars eventually end. But some continue to rage internally.

Years later, in a world at peace, a friend's gift of pity brings Charlotte to a very special place in the woods. Every night, sad, damaged, overworked and unappreciated women make their way to the House of Gentle Men. Here they find the solace and chaste kindness they so desperately crave, administered by haunted men wishing to atone for the crimes in their pasts.

But Charlotte's past is alive within these welcoming walls. And her own sins and secrets impel her to consort with one--and only one--penitent soul whose accusing conscience has brought him here: a damaged man, no longer a soldier, who once joined two comrades to defile a teenage girl in the Louisiana wood.

Chapter 1

From the beginning, the child growing inside her seemed aware of the need for secrecy. It took her monthly flow quietly, swelled her fingers quietly, introduced quietly a craving for mayhaw jelly and Karo syrup straight from the bottle. And the girl--Charlotte--told no one, and no one suspected. For in that fall of 1941, the people of the town could not look at her and see a growing baby. They saw only Charlotte's mother, ambushed by sudden and merciless flames.

The outrageousness of Charlotte's condition furnished more protection. How could a barely kissed Baptist girl--newly sixteen--have conceived anything two weeks after her mother was killed? For in the grief that follows horror there is no room for any Events, only the slow opening of doors and pickle jars, the refusal of a pet to leave the site of a grave, the sudden tears called forward by the sound of Bible passages and the faint aroma of bacon in the black-eyed peas. Tragedy cannot follow so closely on the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
Plot Summary
Louisiana, 1941. Young men from all over America crawled through swamps in what has become known as the Louisiana Maneuvers, or the war before the war. In the surrounding towns, teenage girls swooned for the soon-to-be soldiers. At the tender age of 16, Charlotte Gravin was one such girl. And so, only two weeks after witnessing her mother die in a fire accidentally set by her brother, she wanders into the woods to find a soldier to love. She emerges from the forest degraded, defiled by three men, pregnant, and unable to speak. Nine months later, she births a son alone in the forest and abandons him to the wild.

Evocative and poetic, The House of Gentle Men is populated by individuals who--like Charlotte--have shouldered ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A surreal but touching tale set in post World War II Louisiana. A glorious first novel that I think would be particularly enjoyable to explore in the context of a reading group.

Media Reviews

The Sun Herald
Kathy Hepinstall's first novel is as intriguing and lyrical as its title. The House of Gentle Men is a tale to savor, to ponder over, to go back to and reread passages for their sheer beauty and poetry. Set in rural Louisiana during and after World War II, the lush landscape of the novel matches the lushness of Hepinstall's creation of a world of sad, flawed but courageous characters seeking salvation through forgiveness.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune
Kathy Hepinstall, a skillful new voice in fiction, creates a house of pleasure that replaces lust with love in her debut novel, The House of Gentle Men. Hepinstall's dream-like tale is a distinctly feminine perspective on the consequences of romantic love. Men are doomed to hurt women and women are fated to be their only means of salvation. For a few tantalizing pages -- before the lurking evil elbows its way to the forefront -- one can rejoice in the fantasy that there is a magical place where the sexes overcome the unpredictable combustion of erotic love. Fresh and provocative, The House of Gentle Men shimmers with sensuous prose. Still, the novel's elusive characters may not be tangible enough to draw many readers all the way to its disturbing conclusion.

Library Journal
In an assured first novel that demonstrates promising literary talent, Hepinstall gracefully explores issues of guilt, forgiveness, grace, and redemption.

Reader Reviews

Sunny

A Stunning Book
This book reads like a mythological story or fairy tale, almost, with its gentle prose and thoughtful characters. What an incredible story, and how delicious to follow the inter-related characters to their stunning conclusions! This book speaks of ...   Read More
Veronica

I thought this was a tender story. I enjoyed it very much.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The House of Gentle Men, try these:

  • The Story of Lucy Gault jacket

    The Story of Lucy Gault

    by William Trevor

    Published 2003

    About this book

    More by this author

    In this brilliant, profound and moving story of love, guilt and forgiveness, Trevor has written a novel that stands alongside the best literature in the English language.

  • A Breath of Fresh Air jacket

    A Breath of Fresh Air

    by Amulya Malladi

    Published 2003

    About this book

    More by this author

    On the night of December 3, 1984, Anjali waits for her husband to pick her up at the train station in Bhopal, India. In an instant, her world changes forever. Her anger at his being late turns to horror when a catastrophic gas leak poisons the city air. Anjali miraculously survives. Her marriage does not.

We have 4 read-alikes for The House of Gentle Men, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Kathy Hepinstall
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

Who Said...

If every country had to write a book about elephants...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.