Open House by Jane Christmas

Moving house has never flustered author Jane Christmas. She loves houses: viewing them, negotiating their price, dreaming up interior plans, hiring tradespeople to do the work and overseeing renovations. She loves houses so much that she’s moved thirty-two times.

There are good reasons for her latest house move, but after viewing sixty homes, Jane and her husband succumb to the emotional fatigue of an overheated English housing market and buy a wreck in the town of Bristol that is overpriced, will require more money to renovate than they have and that neither of them particularly like.

As Jane’s nightmare renovation begins, her mind returns to the Canadian homes where she grew up with parents who moved and renovated constantly around the Toronto area. Suddenly, the protective seal is blown off Jane’s memory of a strict and peripatetic childhood and its ancillary damage—lost friends, divorces, suicide attempts—and the past threatens to shake the foundations of her marriage. This latest renovation dredges a deeper current of memory, causing Jane to question whether in renovating a house she is in fact attempting to renovate her past.

brown wooden house near bare trees during daytime

With humour and irreverence, Open House reveals that what we think we gain by constantly moving house actually obscures the precious and vital parts of our lives that we leave behind.

This is a memoir that will appeal to anyone whose pulse quickens at the mere mention of real estate.

Canada flags

In Open House,  Jane Christmas shows her extraordinary gift for illuminating the vital details which make us human. She is that rare writer who can make us think about serious topics even when we are laughing in recognition and I absolutely recommend this wonderfully written journey through the houses that made her…

Am so happy to be on today’s Blog Tour of #Open House and I’m wishing more than ever that it was an actual tour today because I absolutely love Canada and was supposed to spend the entire Summer 2020 travelling on a huge road trip from Toronto to Halifax NS, Today, however – we have to be grateful for virtual journeys, it’s wonderful to be curled up with a great book after a windy walk. The wood burning stove is lit and the rugby is scheduled so I have to just be happy to be in rainy autumnal Scotland.

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I absolutely loved this book. It’s a warm and uplifting read that will genuinely draw you in and let you feel part of Jane’s migratory life as she tries to navigate adult life and all the curveballs that it throws her as she moves us through all the houses and experiences of her life.

Jane has an incredible voice and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with her and hearing her story. When I was reading about her strict childhood upbringing or the many areas to navigate as she tries to throw herself into adult life, it’s an easy sentiment to connect with – I’m sure lots of you will have had that feeling when you think you’re a lot more grown-up than you actually are and end up in situations that you could never have anticipated. Jane’s voice always rings true and you will be creasing up, hearing about some of the situations she finds herself caught up in.

Her uncanny knack for being able to spin the gold out of even the most challenging situation is one of the best things about this book. You will have had lots of these moments yourself where you’ve ended up finding things in common with people you’d never have imagined and this literal as well as metaphorical journey through all the ‘houses’ of her life does it so much better than most. I loved Jane’s style of autobiographical writing and there is much here that will resonate here with people who themselves had a nomadic childhood as well as people who enjoy memoirs with an original and fascinating twist.

trees beside brown wooden house

I really loved the nostalgia I found in its pages. There were loads of moments in Jane’s journey towards adulthood that I really connected with – her honest reflections and off-the-cuff comments are totally unique and I found her absolutely hilarious. There are plenty of awkward and memorable moments as she finds herself looking at her past selves and thinking afresh at some of the choices she made and decisions she took.

white house under maple trees

Jane Christmas wrote this book from the heart, and it shows.  It presents a picture of a journey to becoming yourself reflected through the moves we make and the moments that make us become ourselves and captures these moments in time perfectly.

Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy meeting Jane and her 32 houses for yourself as you follow her through all her yesterdays leading he to the person she is today.

red bicycle parked beside black metal gate in front house

Writer On The Shelf

Open House | CBC Books

JANE CHRISTMAS is the author of several bestselling books, including What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim, about her mid-life pilgrimage along Spain’s famed Camino trail; Incontinent on the Continent, about a six-week road trip through Italy with her elderly and opinionated mother in the hopes of finding a rapprochement in their relationship; as well as And Then There Were Nuns, which chronicles Jane’s discernment about entering religious life, and was a finalist for the 2014 Leacock Memorial Award for Humour. She has been published in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Germany. Born and raised in Canada, Jane Christmas is the mother of three wonderful adults and the ex-wife of two kind-hearted husbands. In 2012, she moved to the UK, where she lives in southwest England with her current husband.

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