Contemporary Fiction Review: Like a House on Fire

May 26, 2022 Uncategorized 0 ★★★½

Contemporary Fiction Review: Like a House on FireTitle: Like a House on Fire
Author: Lauren McBrayer
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: The relationship at the heart of this book was intriguing, but the plot was lighter than I hoped.

After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life…So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s resume and give her a shot. Jane is a supernova—witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself—and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship… Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more—more of a partner, more of a match, more in love—she begins to question: what if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?” (source)

This book was hard to put down, with a lot of gripping tension coming from the will they/won’t they question about Jane and Merit. We can also see Merit becoming increasingly aware of how much she’s settled in her marriage, which ratchets up the tension. Unlike Darling Girl, which I just finished, this did have more going for than just the suspense. Jane and Merit’s relationship was surprising and memorable. In theory, I loved how bold and unapologetic Merit was able to be around Jane. In reality, I’m not sure I’d enjoy working with them, but I did love getting to know them in this story.

Despite being more memorable, this book still didn’t have quite as much substance as I hoped for. This isn’t one of those books where the author makes a character’s spouse a complete monster, but there are definitely serious problems with Merit’s relationship. She never seems to consider trying to fix them as a possibility. First, she starts to simply opt out of the parts she doesn’t like. Then she reaches a point where she feels like she has to make a choice, but seems to see it as a choice between Jane and how things are now with her husband. When she makes her decision, we get a brief flash-forward to her life afterwards, but we don’t ever see her dealing with any of the really tough implications of her choices. Although Merit spontaneously seems to be a different person around Jane, I didn’t feel like there was any actual character growth. While I enjoyed this and it will stick with me, I’m a little disappointed that it felt more like a thriller than a serious look at a difficult choice someone might actually have to make.

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