By Joyce Allen
Wolf's Pond Press, 2008
Hannah's House is a story of parallel lives, a tale in which the life experiences of Hannah Davis in the past resonate in the life of Iris Layton. "I see now, as I did not when I was younger, how lives may be joined to each other by place and by hope as well as by blood," Hannah had written in her recounting of her life, which occupies a large portion of the book, and this is the theme that comes through in the telling of these two life stories.
This is not a ghost story. It is a story of two women, separated by more than a century, whose face life's trials and tribulations with a courage born of internal strength arising from a solitude of spirit. They are joined by place in that Iris's new house is built on the land where Hannah's house had stood. Iris uncovers the site of Hannah's house, clearing away foliage and debris covering the stone foundation, all that is left after Hannah's house was destroyed by fire on Halloween night 1892. Iris knows Hannah's name from a carving in one of the foundation stones, and she hears bits and pieces about Hannah's life from an elderly neighbor who had heard stories about Hannah when he was growing up. Iris feels a very strong connection to Hannah through touching the foundation stones and in the bits and pieces, such as a daguerreotype and a piece of broken pottery she discovers.
In telling the life stories of Hannah and Iris, women whose external lives were very different, the author explores themes of marriage and romantic relationships, the special strengths of women, and the challenges only women face in their lives.
This book will appeal to readers who feel drawn to old houses and the memories that are embedded in them.