The Bone Dragon
Synopsis: ‘The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.’ Robert Louis Stevenson
Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he’s going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that’s just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father.
Not that his strategy is working.
When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose…
Review: Unlike The Bone Dragon I didn’t fall in love with Alexia Casale’s second book from page one but once I did – I fell hard.
House of Windows takes time and it’s a book that is driven by the characters not by the story. Much of the beginning is taken up by the descriptions of Cambridge which some people will love but I don’t think is for everyone.
Nick, his feelings of isolation and tendency to mumble to inanimate objects, was someone I connected with from the start. Naming/talking to objects is what all the best people do – well I do it, so I’m sticking to this theory. As he repeatedly tells people he’s not a genius he just works really hard, which is why he’s at Cambridge at the age of 15. If he didn’t fit in at school, connecting to colleague students is proving even tougher and Nick isn’t easy company. He admits that himself.
As you get deeper into the book you become more involved with the people Nick meets. There is Tim, Professor Gosswin and Ange. I think it was Ange who tipped me into over into the ‘I love this so much’ with her introduction. She’s wonderful. Please can I have her as my friend?
I’ve said this is a character book and it is. House of Windows follows Nick over the course of his first year and Cambridge, during this time Nick grows from someone who pushes everyone away to a young man who can see that people helping him doesn’t mean they’re pitying him.
It’s not just Nick that you get to know, many of the other characters become so real you end up getting into emotional knots (well I did) when something happens to them. The one person who remains consistent is Nick’s father, who I have reserved a special place for in my ‘loathe-box’. As absentee father he excels and every time he let Nick down (again) a little piece of me broke and raged.
House of Windows doesn’t tie up in a pretty bow endings, it leaves you with reality. Not everything is fixed, people don’t always change but others can surprise you and there are journeys to be had.
Finally I want to say something about the writing – which is wonderful (you probably already knew I would say that). What I wanted to highlight were the little gems throughout the book that made me stop to A) appreciate what I read B) want to share it C) want to hug the book and/or special people in my life. The bits about family in particular, the end of the story and the one below – which I think sums up House of Windows beautifully: