Leaving the Pink House
By Ladette Randolph
This book reminded me of Love, Loss and What I Wore, in its ability to evoke not only place, but a mood, a period of time, and a complete cast of characters through the memory of inanimate objects. Unlike clothing, a house does have the ability to almost become a character; and in many books I’ve read the setting becomes more important than the people I am supposed to come to understand.
There are many houses in this book, all places Ladette Randolph has called home at some point in her life. But this book is primarily about the pink house, and the farmhouse she is renovating that will cause her to leave it. I say cause with purpose, because it seemed to me that despite all she suggests, she did not leave her beloved pink house willingly. I read this book with a couple of different mindsets. The child in me, as well as the DIY/HGTV-watcher, wanted to see some photos of these houses and the renovations. Maybe they are in the printed copy, I read a kindle ARC from NetGalley. I also read it as a home-owner who has been through two separate periods of renovation, so yes, I felt her pain. What disappointed me was the lack of enthusiasm she seemed to have toward the house they were renovating. There was a lot of talk about it being her husband’s dream, his project, etc. I cannot imagine tackling a job like this dilapidated house without a unified front – i.e. both spouses 100% vested in the final results.
Because of this, there are some cringe-worthy moments where I felt there was just a little too much disclosure. I don’t mean this in any racy kind of way, but I think that if it were me, I wouldn’t call my husband out on mistakes he made if I still want him to be my husband after the book is in print. There are moments, where Randolph seems to be rethinking her entire relationship, that I found awkward and uncomfortable, and an unnecessary part of the story. Sure, I get it, projects like this cause stress even in a great relationship, but at times this did not even feel like a good relationship, or one I particularly cared about.
Aside from that, I have to say that this couple had some extremely nice and generous family and friends, who put a lot of time, effort, and, in many cases, professional skills into the house. When they implied these were given in exchange for a nice meal, etc., I found it annoying later when they bragged about how they stayed on budget. Hope your friends don’t mind reading that either, but maybe that’s just me. I did find the writing compelling, and the stories of the author’s childhood in Nebraska interesting.