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Other People's Houses

Written by: Abbi Waxman
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 10 hrs
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful." (Number one New York Times best-selling author Emily Giffin)

The author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.

At any given moment in other people's houses, you can find...repressed hopes and dreams...moments of unexpected joy...someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband....  

*record scratch*  

As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors' private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton's wife is mysteriously missing, and now this....

After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that's a notion easier said than done when Anne's husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families - and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.

©2018 Abbi Waxman (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

Good narration, interesting story and point of view. Good character development and plot. would recommend.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Eric Mochnacz
  • 2019-10-20

A miss among an author who has qualified hits...

So, now that I see Abbi Waxman actually looks at Goodreads and responds to her readers, I'm a bit nervous to rate this one. I'll try to be kind. And I'll preface it by saying I've read her books "out of order"...In recognizing the the characters from her first book "The Garden of Small Beginnings" make appearances in this one and "The Bookish Life of Nina Hill", which I read first. So, she's established quite a LA literary universe, Waxman has. And I also want to say I LOVED "Nina Hill" and enjoyed "Small Beginnings."

It is also possible that Saskia Maarleveld, the narrator for this one, and NOT her other two...Maybe just didn't get the story rhythms right.

So now that I've prepared anyone reading this...I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. It seemed to be missing the wit, humor and heart that rounds out the real life occurrences in Waxman's books. All the characters in this one seem a bit TOO cynical, a bit TOO harsh, and don't have any level of softness that makes them likable. It felt like the book was trying to ride the wave of popularity that came with "Big Little Lies", but something just didn't click.

The main character, I guess, is Frances Bloom - and the actions of the story kick off when she accidentally walks in on her neighbor, Ann, engaged in an affair with younger art professor, Richard (and since this is a shard universe, this isn't the same Richard that marries Lily's sister Rachel, right?!). As the repercussions hit her small LA community, we are introduced to Iris and Sara, the cheating Ann and her husband Charlie, Francis's husband Michael, and Bill and Julie...and all their children. Some stories carry more dimension and characters provide more depth, but too often, the story jumps to each characters' feelings and point of view, making it a bit clumsy. There isn't clarity of perspective. And since we're talking clarity, all the kids in the story are interchangeable. As I was reading, short of angsty teenager Ava, I wasn't even clear on the ages of any of the kids - so are they realistically written!? I have no clue. Should Theo be able to talk as well as he does to his sister or friends!? Couldn't tell you - because I'm not even sure how old he is supposed to be.

As for Frances, sure, she's flawed. I don't mind flawed characters. I love the characters in Waxman's other books - flaws and all. But they have soft edges and heart. Throughout the course of the story, Frances shifts between considerate mom, to judgmental mom to shrill harpy. I know not all stories are black and white - but for the character on whom the story spends most of its time - there's really nothing appealing about her. Iris and Sarah, a lesbian couple, seem relegated to the cliche "Will we have another baby" story line? And Bill and Julie are so inconsequential, their outcome isn't of much importance to me. And the biggest travesty, is none of them are likable! They all come across as just a bit too self-centered for me to care what happens to them. None of them ever speak up for their feelings or know how to have mature conversations with their spouses. It's all melodrama and cliche.

The dialogue all seems a bit forced, and when it comes to any references that only apply to the characters under 18 - it all seems contrived and an attempt to come across as hip and modern. "Look, I am writing realistic children characters with depth because I mention Minecraft!" Like I said, it is possible that narrator missed the rhythm of the book. There are moments of wit and some potential at heart - but the book seemed delivered with an overall tone of cynicism. If delivered and paced better, I wonder if I would've gotten the same sense I got when I listened to Waxman's other books. A sense of joy and humor and wonder in the midst of an adult story with serious consequences and implications.

Ultimately, this Waxman novel just didn't meet the pinnacle of the other too. It lacks the heart I've come to expect from an amazing author.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Roy
  • 2018-04-06

Boring and predictable

10 plus hours wasted listening to this book about carpools, coffee and superficial female relationships. Nothing deep or thoughtful about these predicable suburban characters.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda Ottey
  • 2018-04-06

Overwhelmed by profanity

If a “prize” were awarded for most prolific use of the f-bomb, this book would be a top 5 contender. The cultural insights and wry humor were overwhelmed by the profanity and obsession, often gratuitously graphic, with sex. Too bad because I can tell this author is intelligent and funny, too, but I found the language and frequent sexual descriptions not only distasteful but also distracting.
On the upside, the narrator is one of my favorites!

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ChicagoE
  • 2020-04-12

Not sold in narrator

I liked the story and chose it bc I’d read another of Abbi Waxman’s books. I just didn’t love the reader. I thought she sounded too somber, not enough humor in her voice.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Thriving
  • 2019-12-14

Loved the raw emotions. F word overused.

I liked this book overall. The emotions expressed in the story were genuine, raw, and relatable but the rampant use of the F word was a bit much.

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  • Swoop
  • 2019-10-10

Didn't want it to end!

I really loved everything about this book, didn't want it to end!! I'll definitely be reading more by the author.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-12-05

Slice of Life

This book was able to make me laugh and pull on my heart strings all at the same time. It examines the inner workings of a suburban neighborhood and what kind of fall out there will be when a woman is discovered cheating on her husband. The standout character for me was Frances. She was incredible.

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  • eastereagle
  • 2018-08-18

I’m glad I don’t live in LA

Do educated mature adults really talk to each other like this? I’m glad I live in the boring multi- season Midwest.
Reflections on parenting were funny at times but always had that ring of cynicism. At least the author tried to redeem her characters st the end.

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  • officemaximus
  • 2018-08-17

A look at other people's lives...

This was a fun read, but when I finished it, I found myself wondering what the point was. I guess, at the end of the day, it was a glimpse into the lives of characters who seemed so real I felt like I knew them! No complicated plot twists, just well described characters living their lives.

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  • lisa
  • 2018-06-07

great book!

the main character was super funny! I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the book, nothing too deep, nothing too sappy. great to listen to while I worked.