Tessa is a thirty-seven-year-old real estate agent living in Montreal. She adores her husband and three young sons, but she’s deeply unhappy and questioning the set of choices that have led to her present life.
After a surprising run-in with Francis, her ex-boyfriend and first love, Tessa arranges to see him. During the three days before their meeting, she goes about her daily life — there’s swimming lessons, science projects, and dirty dishes. As the day of her meeting with Francis draws closer she has to decide if she is willing to disrupt her stable, loving family life for an uncertain future with him.
With startling clarity and emotional force, Fanny Britt gives us a complex portrait of a woman and a marriage from the inside out.
Britt is especially strong at capturing the hyper-vulnerability a mother can feel on behalf of her children . . . In capturing and sustaining that intense emotional pitch, the novel is spiritual kin to Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Adult Onset and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin . . . Translators Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli do an exemplary job of rendering Britt’s prose crisply and idiomatically.
Fanny Britt has a unique gift for revealing the lining of the everyday, and showing how complex and explosive and profound it can be. Her prose is sleek, her humour sharp, and her voice fuelled by kindness, rooted in truth. Hunting Houses reads like a story you thought you knew, then you realize that Britt does not write characters, she writes humans; humans always have layers, and they are always astonishing.
Britt’s novel is an unflinching reminder that heartbreak doesn’t discriminate. . . . Britt reveals, moment by moment, the lifetime of a woman caught between the expectations of motherhood and personal fulfillment.
Fanny Britt’s Hunting Houses is as transparent and true a picture of startling, soul-seizing, everyday love as you’ll ever come across in fiction. But here, also, is the kind of haunting temptation that can threaten enduring love, the hairline crack from the past that promises to break apart everything that matters. Think Chekhov’s Lady with Lapdog or poor Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina — if those women were to fall in love in 80s Montreal, if they had to line up all night on the sidewalk waiting for Pearl Jam tickets, if they grew up to be real estate agents with an eye for homey interiors and faults in the foundation. Think of all the subtle, complex deals women make with themselves to stay true. In bone-honest, luminous prose, Britt shows the nature of lust and how we can become the playthings of our past desires, however illusory.