Dream House

yellow pear book club: dream house

Catherine Armsden’s novel Dream House begins with a storm, and if you’re curling up in front of the fire with your own copy, you might as well get some friends together to talk through the book over hot chocolate this wet winter. Here are some questions to get the conversation going while the wind howls outside.

  1. The chapters of Dream House are framed with quotes by thinkers who have written about the relationship of houses to people’s interior lives. Christopher Alexander wrote: “The structure of life I have described in buildings—the structure which I believe to be objective—is deeply and inextricably connected with the human person, and with the innermost nature of human feeling.” How does Dream House embody this idea?
  2. At the heart of the story are secrets, family traumas and family treasures. What secrets does the house hold, and how do they impact Gina’s ability to make peace with her past?
  3. How did the way Gina grew up shape her life with her own husband and children? What role did the physical nature of the house in Maine play in this?
  4. Gina is trying unsuccessfully to design a new house in California for her family. While she’s in Maine, what does she discover that seems to explain why she’s having this trouble, and how will this revelation affect her and Paul’s future search for a new home? Why do you think the author chose to end the book the way she did? Did this ending seem inevitable or necessary?