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Summary

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and examines them from distinct angles. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction, infusing all with her characteristic wit, playfulness and openness to enquiry. The result is a powerful book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.

©2019 Carmen Maria Machado (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"A dark jewel reflecting something startling - familiar and strange." (Guardian)

"Ravishingly beautiful." (Observer)

"Excruciatingly honest and yet vibrantly creative." (Irish Times)

What listeners say about In the Dream House

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great, but missing elements of the written text

This is a really good reading by the author of a book that, as you can see from my ratings, I thought was excellent. But I was very glad that I also had a physical copy of the book, because there are certain aspects that don't come over well (or at all) in the audio.

First, the book has fairly frequent footnotes. Some of these give further details relating to the text, interesting back stories to people and events mentioned, etc., but most of these notes relate to Thompson's _Motif Index of Folk Literature_. Losing these means that one of the points of the narrative is lost: the narrator/author says she 'wanted to believe that my love was unique and my pain was unique' but then she discovers, in researching it, that it is a common story (p.266). The commonality has in fact been foreshadowed throughout by the footnote references to a motif taxonomy, which is entirely absent from the audio.

Second, the book has a chapter called 'Dream House as Choose Your Own Adventure'. In the audio, the reading takes the most direct path through this, which means that that recursive nature of the 'adventure' (the way that the choice is not much of a choice at all) is lost, as are several entries which are on pages that you can't legitimately get to in the choose your own adventure numbering (these pages berate the reader for reading linearly, as if they're trying to break out of the cycle of abuse).

These are relatively minor things to be missing, but they are both innovative and creative features of the book, so it's a shame that neither are present in the audio. My recommendation is to buy the physical book and the audio and enjoy both!

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful and heartbreaking

I’ve never read a memoir quite like this. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, the structure of the book took me by surprise, but what a wonderful surprise.

The author’s use of language is a delight. This is a woman who knows words, who loves words, and uses them to paint a picture that is beautiful and horrifying and frightening and eye-opening and beautiful all over again.

The way the abuse unfolds is sinister, and almost camouflaged, and you can see it happening and as the reader you want to stop it, but you can’t, so you sit as a horrified and helpless spectator and watch it all play out. Wishing you could do something, anything, to help.

This is an incredibly brave and important piece of work. I feel honoured to have been able to read it.

1 person found this helpful