The House Guest Review

Victorian CornerDeborah L. Norris’s The House Guest, is a warm and uniquely rich story that shares the depths of family bonds and friendships, joys and sorrows, life and death. This book follows a widow, Maggie, throughout her life from birth to after death, giving readers a full glance into her laughs, tears, thoughts and everything in between. We watch, in a front row seat, as she deals with losing those closest to her, raising her daughter, Jenna, putting up with ungrateful freeloaders, and even finding love again. But she doesn’t do it alone! All throughout this book, we are introduced to some amazingly, well-developed characters whom anyone would grow to love. Readers will get a clear sense of what each characters bring to the book, whether it is warmth, laughter, love or greed. Each of the characters stood out on their own, but I’ve reserved a couple of them as my favorites; those being Lee, Noah and Anna. And who wouldn’t love a pet like Lobos! Lee is a clear favorite who made me laugh on too many occasions with her witty humor, perspectives and slamming doors. Noah burrowed deeply into my heart because even through his past, he still came out a hard-worker and sweetheart. Anna is such a gentle-loving soul whom reminds me so much of my own grandmother and for that, she will always be a favorite.  Another thing The House Guest offered was the quotes by the author in the beginning of each chapter. My favorite quote being, “The earth graciously supplies enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but there will never be enough to satisfy every man’s greed.”

Overall, this book had me feeling as though I was sitting at the table with them sharing their conversations, shedding tears as I felt their grief, laughing along with them and wanting to take a bite of those delicious sounding oatmeal cookies! I was thoroughly engaged with the book and would highly recommend to any and all who enjoy laughing and sharing conversations with family and friends at any meal! ~ EBReviews

Keeper of Childhood Memories

DepartedThe old house was nothing at all like what she had described to me through the years. From her vivid recollections, I saw in my mind a lovely, well-kept home with spacious rooms and beautiful furnishings. According to her, it was a glorious place that remained alive with the laughter of children and happy conversation around the kitchen table.  Now I stood in the doorway of this dilapidated structure, and found it all but difficult to disguise my shock. She walked slowly into the rundown keeper of her childhood memories, and raised her head as if to draw in the yesteryear aroma of homemade bread cooling on the kitchen counter. She smiled with utter delight, her hands clasped tightly to her chest. It was in this moment I realized she had described precisely what she would always remember.  ~ Deborah L. Norris

Review of The House Guest

The House Guest by Deborah L NorrisThe House Guest by Deborah L. Norris follows the life of Maggie Davis, a middle-aged widow living in a large Victorian home in 1950s Nebraska with her daughter. The house also doubles as a bed and breakfast, so new boarders come in and out to gather around Maggie’s kitchen table for conversation about life and the latest gossip. As Maggie is still recovering from her husband’s tragic death, she has a lot to contend with in her own life, but she’s also a keen observer of her visitors. A scheme to swindle Maggie out of her property leads to a striking climax in which we learn there’s more to Maggie than meets the eye.

The House Guest is all about relationships, big and small – the town of Tilden has no shortage of drama. Given that the novel takes place in the early 1950s, it harkens back to a time before the internet, and when television was just starting – so conversation with family and friends was a major source of information and entertainment. It’s a pleasant reminder of yesteryear, and really does read like a time capsule of a certain era. Deborah’s description of the house also reveals a sturdiness that seems lost to the transience of modern life. It’s a quiet, old-fashioned novel – comforting in its calm attention to detail.

Though the novel is a period drama, it also shows people’s timeless and universal humanity. Each person who visits Maggie has a novel’s worth of story of their own, making The House Guest a lively and entertaining literary read focusing both on the small details of people’s lives and the big issues that shape us. ~ Lysa Grant, SPR

A Little Christmas Cheer

ChristmasBeautyIf you haven’t had the opportunity to read The House Guest, for a limited time you can order a Kindle edition for only $.99. Get your copy today! The House Guest

SAMPLE EXCERPT FROM THE HOUSE GUEST:   The gold Lincoln Continental traveled slowly down the snow-covered lane and onto the main road leading toward the school. Jenna sat in the front seat between Noah and Maggie, dressed in her sheep costume and rehearsing her play lines under her breath.

“No need to be nervous, Miss Jenna.” Noah knew instinctively that she was uneasy about the upcoming performance. “From what I’ve heard, sheep have very good memories,” he said, reassuringly. She glanced up at him and smiled, black felt nose firmly in place.

Maggie placed her hand on Jenna’s. “You’ll do just fine, sweetheart.”

Anna echoed encouragement from the backseat. “Above all, relax and have a good time, dear.”

“I’m just wondering if they’re providing refreshments for those of us who will be subjected to sitting through a two-hour program.” Lee gazed out the side window, already restless.

Within a few minutes, they were parked in front of Tilden Public School and making their way into the building to locate seating in the large auditorium.  Once everyone was finally seated, the sixth-grade band began playing a slightly familiar Christmas carol while the other students quickly assembled on risers for the performance. Jenna anxiously scanned the audience, and then waved shyly when she spotted her family. Following suit, Lee waved while simultaneously leaning in Anna’s direction to whisper, “Lord have mercy, that sounds nothing like Joy to the World!”

During a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells, Lee began shifting back and forth in her seat. She leaned again to whisper to Anna, “These chairs are terribly uncomfortable.” Shifting to the side once more, she added, “Besides, a person shouldn’t be expected to endure much more than about ten minutes of a program involving children.”

“Lee, try to stay focused for heaven’s sake,” Anna whispered, annoyed that Lee was such a distraction. “You’re worse than a fidgety child.”

The final song couldn’t have come any sooner as far as Lee was concerned. O Holy Night was performed by the combined grades and received a standing ovation. As soon as the program was over, and the crowd officially dismissed by Mr. Donovan, Lee marched directly for the refreshment table with the hope of soothing her irritation – and her weary behind. The long line that had already assembled didn’t deter her – she cut in, snatched two coconut macaroons from a plate, and turned to find Anna. “Pray till, there was a child in the choir that couldn’t carry a tune in a blessed bucket!” She tried, albeit a lame attempt, to keep her voice down. “Why is it that the ones who can’t sing are always placed right smack dab in front of a microphone, for crying out loud?”

“It was a wonderful program, Lee. They all performed well, and Jenna didn’t miss a beat.” Anna was determined to be the positive voice between the two, as they made their way out the front door and to the parking lot.

“Lord have mercy, it was an assault on the ears,” she complained. “Again, it’s why children should be seen and not heard.” She sighed loudly. “I don’t drink, but if I did…” Lee trailed off, still shaking her head as they walked toward the car to join the others.


Holiday Book Special

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SAMPLE EXCERPT FROM THE HOUSE GUEST:  When dinner was ready, Maggie ushered everyone into the dining room to be seated, and Reverend Flagstadt took his place at the far end of the large mahogany dining table to conduct what was a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition at the manor. “Let’s take just a moment to individually express thanks for our many blessings. Maggie, as the gracious hostess, would you like to begin?”

“I’m most thankful for my family, good friends, and such a beautiful day to spend with the ones I love.” She looked around the table at her many guests and smiled warmly.

Reverend Flagstadt then glanced in Lee’s direction. “Lee, how about you?”

“Frankly, I never did quite understand the purpose of this little exercise because it seems that the only outcome is cold food,” she complained.

“Aren’t you especially thankful for something, Lee?”  Reverend Flagstadt seemed a little perplexed at Lee’s reluctance to express her gratitude for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“I’d be especially thankful to start eating.” She folded her arms across her chest in a show of defiance. “I think you should take this opportunity to offer a brief prayer, and then let’s dig in while everything is hot.” She glanced around the table, taking notice that all eyes were fixed upon her. “Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I missed breakfast this morning.”

Jenna respectfully lowered her head in preparation for a prayer that was likely forthcoming, but mostly it served as an effort to disguise her struggle for control of giggles. As it was, Reverend Flagstadt took his time with the Thanksgiving prayer, expressing gratitude for nearly everything that crossed his mind. Lee’s deep sighs of irritation failed to deter him.

Review of The House Guest

5star-shiny-webWhen Maggie Anderson Davis inherited the Victorian home where she grew up, it was with the anticipation of continuing the family legacy of mingling the familiar with the unexpected. Small town Tilden, Nebraska, becomes ever smaller at Maggie’s kitchen table where stories grow, memories are rehashed, and gossip fuels minds. With a neighbor like Lee, the opinionated and brassy outspoken voice of reason, there is always lively fodder for conversation. From homespun advice to openly chastising the traveling salesman famous for reneging on his room and board when he appears on his sporadic visits to Maggie’s bed and breakfast, Lee offers comic relief in this beautifully written tale. Though Maggie is the rightful owner of her home and business,  William Bouchard is determined to acquire sole ownership of the family home. In her fight to maintain the dignity and history of the property, Maggie is thrown into a battle of wills and the reality of greed.

Some people obviously do not understand the importance of tradition and customs. Unfortunately those people are often family. Deborah Norris has created a lovely tale of family and community in her novel The House Guest: Persuasions, Perspectives & Prejudices. This story is a reflection of old time grace and nostalgia. I enjoyed the author’s voice and colorful connections with the many visitors who came the way of Maggie’s table. The House Guest is the perfect novel to compliment a hot cup of tea on a rainy day. I loved this novel. ~ Reviewed By Lisa McCombs for Readers’ Favorite