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The Carriage House by Louisa Hall

The Carriage House

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An intelligent, compassionate and thought-provoking novel where the writing sparkles through the weight of expectations, hidden hopes and damaged dreams. The broken, faded Carriage House, threatened with bulldozers somehow binds a splintered family together and is found to be deserving, worth fighting for. The characters are rounded and feel so very real, one paragraph finds you wanting to hug, to console, to soothe their pain, the next to shake their apathy, to smack their selfishness, to shriek at their audacity. The author is able to open the door and walk in on the secluded part of a consciousness, one that’s not visited very often, that’s shied away from, ignored. Hall’s writing is eloquent, discerning and moving, she has the ability to make you sit back and think, to ponder…in a world of other peoples expectations, can you ever truly just be yourself? ~ Liz Robinson

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Carriage House a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'A stunningly beautiful tale of family expectations, consequential change and relationships...Full of heartwarming poignancy' - Lucinda Fountain. Scroll down to read more reviews.

A 'Piece of Passion' from Viking Publisher Venetia Butterfield...

'Warm-hearted, intelligent and hugely compassionate, The Carriage House is a beautifully written novel about families and expectations, growing up and finding your place in the world, and rebuilding lost lives - from fantastic debut author Louisa Hall.

William Adair, patriarch, doting father of three girls, Men’s Tennis Club Champion from 1967-1974 wakes up in his hospital bed and realizes that his family are less extraordinary than he had believed. For more than thirty years, his faith in life was grounded on two indisputable principles: his daughters’ exceptional beauty and talents and the historical resonance of a carriage house built by his grandfather. Now, both have begun to collapse.

The three Adair daughters once so brilliant have all returned home; Elizabeth, the divorced but once promising actress, tennis ace Diana, now a University dropout and beautiful, sorrowful 18 year old Isabelle. Having lost their father’s pride they struggle to define themselves. To help him recover, William’s daughters take on the battle for their dilapidated carriage house and attempt to recapture some of the promise of their former selves. Told through the alternating perspectives of the family, a dramatic fire jolts them out of their self-absorbed misery and each of the Adairs start to overcome their wrong turns and to find the promise of a fresh start.'

A message from the author...

'Just before starting The Carriage House, I re-read Jane Austen's Persuasion and realized that it was, in part, about a young woman who's forgotten how to be her previous self. Anne Elliot is twenty-eight years old, and everything about her has changed; she's lost her looks and her confidence, and she can barely remember how she used to carry herself when she was her younger, prettier version. At the time I also felt as if I'd wandered out of a previous existence. When I left my early life as a professional squash player to pursue a literary career, I lost all of the ways I used to measure myself, I found it hard to imagine life without the reassurance of a numerical ranking.

Between my own and Anne Elliot's loss of a former persona, I became fascinated by the idea of characters who are suspended between two iterations of their life. I wanted to see how each of them could move forward, whilst mourning the loss of a former version of their self and their family. The Carriage House is my exploration of such characters.' – Louisa Hall


The Carriage House by Louisa Hall

Jane Austen's Persuasion is brought into the twenty-first century by Louisa Hall in The Carriage House, a stunning novel of family and forgiveness, set in contemporary suburban America. Elizabeth, Diana and Izzy, three sisters who have lived a privileged life in suburban America are the pride and joy of their father William. All three were tennis prodigies as children, popular, and successful at school: they seemed destined for greatness. But the idyllic facade masks a family who is in turmoil - their mother is suffering with early onset Alzheimer's which is making Izzy spiral out of control, Diana is failing her career, Elizabeth feels trapped by her domesticity and their father is still in love with his old sweetheart, Adelia. When William is suddenly taken ill, he reveals that he has lost faith in the things he had once held closest to his heart: the promise of his gifted daughters and his grandfather's beautiful carriage house, now lost to the family. Devastated by his disappointment in them and desperate to make their father proud, the sisters band together to restore his beloved carriage house which is now dilapidated, unloved and under threat of demolition by the neighbourhood association, and to re-build a family in disarray. Touching, intelligent and compassionate, The Carriage House is a drama about family, relationships and forgiveness - and, most importantly, that it is never too late to make amends.


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review The Carriage House. You can read their reviews below.

Lucinda Fountain - 'A stunningly beautiful tale of family expectations, consequential change and relationships...Full of heartwarming poignancy and focusing on forgiveness, this is a tale that reminds one of how strong the connection is between relatives, and how the home is where the heart is.' Click here to read the full review.

Berwyn Peet - 'I enjoyed this interesting novel about a dysfunctional family in surburban America... I have nothing but praise for the quality of the writing and will be eagerly looking out for Louisa Hall's next novel.' Click here to read the full review.

Jade Craddock - 'Louisa Hall writes masterfully and the way the narrative smoothly moves between the voices of the various characters, intermeshing timeframes and perspectives, is effortless.' Click here to read the full review.

Dawn Shaw - 'I enjoyed this book right from the start with good solid characters showing their personal crises but with a touch humor, and romance too...Highly Recommended.' Click here to read the full review.

Maggie Crane - 'This story is a beautiful, entrancing, amusing and sad story of a family at a time of crisis for all ages...All the characters become very real and you wish you could jump into the pages and sort them all out!!' Click here to view the full review.

Sarah Bedwell - 'it was an overall enjoyable read, at times humorous, at times poignant, but certainly a reminder of how fleeting life can be.' Click here to read the full review.

Sam Lewis - 'A story about the complexities within family life. I really enjoyed the book and wouldn’t have believed this was a debut novel, had I not of known.' Click here to read the full review.

Nikki Clark - 'The Carriage House is a perceptive novel about regret. The characters struggle with what they’ve become, they mourn the loss of the people they used to be close to and they rue the decisions they’ve made.' Click here to read the full review.

Sue Broom - 'This is a novel about people who fail in their individual ways to live up to others’ expectations of them. Louisa Hall’s handling of their overlapping stories is subtle and compelling.' Click here to read the full review.

Josie Barton - - 'Intricate and complex, the author deftly manoeuvres between characters and gradually unpeels all the layers which reveal the flaws and imperfections of family life, and whilst dysfunctional superficiality becomes the central theme, it only serves to strengthen the awareness that together we are stronger than when we are alone.' Click here to read the full review.

Edel Waugh - 'This is a thought provoking story that at times was emotional, but ultimately a satisfying retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion.' Click here to read the full review.

Zarina de Ruiter - 'While the starting off point for the novel was certainly a fascinating one, the self-pitying characters soon became tiresome and I struggled finding the interest to finish the book.' Click here to read the full review.

Vanessa Wild - 'It is a very character driven story and is about the importance of family, forgiveness and acceptance...I would recommend The Carriage House to those readers who prefer a character based plot with good observations of family life.' Click here to read the full review.

Sylvia Willingale - 'The author has done well in this book which I enjoyed. She demonstrates the value of the mother who is the bedrock of the family and if taken away, there is no pattern or values to guide the children when growing up.' Click here to read the full review.

Nicola Foster - - 'The strongest aspect of this novel is by far Margaux and her struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Through the medium of her diary excerpts, we comprehend this devastating illness and the impact it has on her relationship with her husband and daughters.' Click here to read the full review.


'A twisted family saga lodged in John Cheever and Wes Anderson' Vogue, USA

'Kind-hearted and subtle ... a tribute to Jane Austen's Persuasion' -- Vanora Bennett The Times

'Every sentence in The Carriage House is full of clarity, attention, and grace. Louisa Hall is a writer to be admired' -- Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds

'Touching, intelligent and compassionate, The Carriage House is a drama about family, relationships and forgiveness - and, most importantly, that it is never too late to make amends. Louisa Hall writes about the wars waged between neighbours and family members with extraordinary sympathy and a keen sense of humour. Part Jane Austen, part John Cheever, this tale of upheaval in a suburban Philadelphia household marks the debut of a stunning new writer.' Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust

'The Carriage House is gorgeously detailed and rife with betrayal, heartbreak, nostalgia, lost love, and possibilities for redemption. You will ache for the Adair family, cringe at their mistakes, and plead with them to make peace with each other before it's too late. In her smart and insightful debut, Louisa Hall examines the ways in which we fail and forgive others-and ourselves.' Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

About the Author

Louisa Hall

Louisa Hall was born in Philadelphia in 1982 and grew up in the nearby suburb of Haverford. She graduated from Harvard in 2004 and went on to play squash professionally for three years. She is now completing her Ph.D. in literature at the University of Texas at Austin, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her poems have been published in journals such as The New Republic, The Southwest Review, and Ellipsis. The Carriage House is her first novel.

Author photo © Ben Steinbauer

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Book Info

Publication date

24th April 2014


Louisa Hall

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Penguin Books Ltd


288 pages


Family Drama
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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