Last House by Jessica Shattuck

May 14th, 2024 Kimberly Review 2 Comments

14th May

Last House by Jessica Shattuck delivered an epic tale that spans eighty-years as Shattuck follows Nick Taylor, his wife Bet and their children, Katherine and Harry in this rich, poignant tale of love, loss and ideals set against American history.

Last House by Jessica Shattuck
Last House
by Jessica Shattuck
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The war is over, and America has entered a golden age: The Age of Oil.

It’s 1953, and for Nick Taylor, WWII veteran turned company lawyer, oil is the key to the future. He takes the train into the city for work and returns to the peaceful streets of the suburbs and to his wife, Bet, former codebreaker now housewife, and their two children, Katherine and Harry. Nick comes from humble origins but thanks to his work for American Oil, he can provide every comfort for his family, including Last House, a secluded country escape. Deep in the Vermont mountains, the Taylors are free from the stresses of modern life. Bet doesn’t have to worry about the Russian H-bombs that haunt her dreams, and the children roam free in the woods. Last House is a place that could survive the end of the world.

It’s 1968, and America is on the brink of change. Protestors fill the streets to challenge everything from the Vietnam War to racism in the wake of MLK’s shooting—to the country's reliance on Big Oil. As Katherine makes her first forays into adult life, she’s caught up in the current of the time and struggles to reconcile her ideals with the stable and privileged childhood her Greatest Generation parents worked so hard to provide. But when the Movement shifts in a more radical direction, each member of the Taylor family will be forced to reckon with the consequences of the choices they’ve made for the causes they believed in.

Spanning multiple generations and nearly eighty years, Last House tells the story of one American family during an age of grand ideals and even greater downfalls. Set against the backdrop of our nation’s history, this is an emotional tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance and what we owe each other—and captures to stunning effect the gravity of time, the double edge of progress, and the hubris of empire.

Family historical Standalone well written

Shattuck shares a slice of American history with us that spans almost eighty-years through the eyes of the Taylor family. It begins at the end of World War II; the beginning of the age of oil.

It’s 1953 and Nick is home from the war and working as a lawyer. He’s building a life for his wife Bet and their two children, Katherine and Harry. The story is told mostly from Bet’s point of view, but some from Nicks. Fear of communism is on the rise and Nick works on overseas oil negotiations. We meet Taylor’s business associate, Carter invites them to Last House, in Vermont. An idyllic cabin on the lake that allows the Taylors to escape the mundane.

We follow Bet and Nick, but also their children as they grow up in an era that questions, and protests, Vietnam, big oil and more. The second half of the book begins in 1968, and is told from Catherine’s POV. Catherine is finding herself in college and joins a radical newspaper.

The author beautifully weaves the political climate and historical events around their story, creating a poignant family saga that is impacted by the changing times. Emotional and well crafted, I found myself wrapped up in their lives and struggles.

Last House is perfect for book club, fans of historical fiction and family sagas that span generations. I found myself caught up in the Taylors story and their Vermont summer house.

Amazon | Audible

About Jessica Shattuck

Jessica Shattuck

Jessica Shattuck is the New York Times Bestselling author of the novels Last House, The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among others. She received her MFA from Columbia University.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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