The Hundred-Year House
A haunted family and a haunted house... in reverse.
When Doug’s mother-in-law offers up the coach house at Laurelfield, her hundred-year-old estate north of Chicago, Doug and his wife Zee accept. Doug is fascinated by the house’s previous life as an artists’ colony, and hopes to find something archival there about the poet Edwin Parfitt, who was in residence at Laurelfield in the twenties (and whose work happens to be Doug’s area of scholarship). When he learns that there are file cabinets full of colony materials in the attic, Doug is anxious to get to work and save his career—but his mother-in-law refuses him access. With help from friends, Doug finally does access the Parfitt file—only to find far stranger and more disturbing material than he bargained for. Doug may never learn all the house’s secrets, but the reader does, as the narrative zips back in time from 1999 to 1955 and 1929. We see the autumn right after the colony’s demise, when its newlywed owners are more at the mercy of the place’s lingering staff than they could imagine; and we see it as a bustling artists’ community fighting for survival in the last, heady days of the 1920s. Through it all, the residents of Laurelfield are both plagued and blessed by the strange legacy of Laurelfield’s original owners: extraordinary luck, whether good or bad.
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Praise for the book
“[A] gleeful tale of ghosts, vengeance and family secrets…The darkly funny Makkai seeds the narrative with so many mysteries and surprises…that those 100 years race by.”
—People, “The Best New Books”
“Makkai guides her twisty, maximalist story with impressive command and a natural ear for satire. Equal parts screwball comedy, intellectual sex farce, historical drama and old-fashioned ghost story, The Hundred-Year House sometimes feels like the precocious love child of John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire and a rousing game of Clue.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A big-hearted gothic novel, an intergenerational mystery, a story of heartbreak and a romance, all crammed into one grand Midwestern estate….A juicy and moving story of art and love and the luck it takes for either to last.”
—Los Angeles Times