The Irresistible Henry House
By Lisa Grunwald
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400063000, 432pp.)
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
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It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.
From his earliest days as a “practice baby” through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney’s Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles’ London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.
Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.
Lisa Grunwald is the author of the novels Whatever Makes You Happy, New Year’s Eve, The Theory of Everything, and Summer. Along with her husband, BusinessWeek editor in chief Stephen J. Adler, she edited the bestselling anthologies Women’s Letters and Letters of the Century. Grunwald is a former contributing editor to Life and a former features editor of Esquire.
From 1919 to 1969, college home economics programs had "practice apartments" where young women learned the domestic arts, including how to mother by caring for infants lent by local orphanages to live at the school. Author Lisa Grunwald shares the history she discovered in researching her novel The Irresistible Henry House. More at NPR.org
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"Like T.S. Garp, Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button, Henry House, the hero of Grunwald’s imaginative take on a little known aspect of American academic life, has an unusual upbringing....Grunwald nails the era just as she ingeniously uses Henry and the women in his life to illuminate the heady rush of sexual freedom (and confusion) that signified mid-century life."—Publishers Weekly, starred review and "Pick of the Week"
"The Irresistible Henry House is a soaring, heartfelt novel that spans three decades and an entire continent. Grunwald, author of several novels including Whatever Makes You Happy, creates a wholly original and all too human character in Henry House. Despite his quirks and shortcomings (or perhaps because of them), Henry is one of the most likeable, relatable characters in recent memory."
—Amy Scribner, BookPage
"Epic and thoroughly engrossing... House sweeps along with such page-turning vitality that [Henry's] story is indeed irresistible." Grade: A
—Leah Greenblat, Entertainment Weekly
"A smart, enjoyable read that will leave you with a pleasing thought: Even for guys who just aren't that into anyone, there's hope."
—Kim Hubbard, People Magazine
—Kathleen Daly, Newark Star-Ledger
"Imaginatively picaresque and often gut-wrenching"
—Alex Kuczynski, O, the Oprah Magazine
"Don't miss this book!"
—A More Magazine "Great Read"
"This welcome variation of coming-of-age tales shares with Grunwald's previous novels a compelling web of characters and emotions that will please the author's fans and readers who are interested in novels with emotional depth."
"A rueful but wry case study of nurture as nightmare. "
—Kirkus, Starred Review
"Brilliant and original, heartwarming and heartbreaking, this stunning novel is as irresistible as Henry House."—Linda Fairstein, author of Lethal Legacy and Hell Gate
"At first I thought it was just Henry House who was completely irresistible, but then I realized I couldn't put Grunwald's truly extraordinary novel down. Get ready for a story, an adventure, and a cast of characters you'll never forget."—Liz Smith
"Lisa Grunwald has such a fantastic love story to tell, and she tells it so entertainingly, that you hardly notice until you're done that she's slyly rewritten the social history of the fifties and sixties."—Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
"Lisa Grunwald recreates the American mid-century through the eyes of young Henry House as he travels far and wide on a quest to discover his authentic and creative self. The Irresistible Henry House is a powerful and engaging story about our need for community, truth, and love."—Julie Metz, author of Perfection
"What is necessary for us to love another? Can we learn to love without the initial bonding of mother and child? Lisa Grunwald in The Irresistible Henry House has taken the questions of love and early attachment right out of the hands of the psychologists and theorists and made it live luminously in fiction, in the vibrant and much adored character of Henry House. The novel is smart, provocative and generous. Grunwald masterfully shapes the detail of character and the sweep of history; this is Lisa Grunwald at her best."—Victoria Redel, author of Loverboy and The Border of Truth