His Other House
He was dismayed how readily he took to lying. He'd always thought of it as a decisive abandonment of the truth. Instead, he realised, it was simply a matter of one word slipping into the place of another.'
Dr Quinn Davidson and his wife Marianna have endured years of unsuccessful IVF and several miscarriages, and Quinn can't face another painful attempt to conceive. Marianna is desperate to be a mother and their marriage is feeling the strain.
At a small-town practice a few hours from their home, Quinn meets Rachel, the daughter of one of his patients. Drawn to each other, it's not long before they find themselves in a passionate affair and Quinn realises he must choose between the two women. Then Marianna announces a surprise natural conception, news that will change the course of all their lives.
Set in the lush Australian subtropics, this taut emotional drama poses questions about moral courage and accountability, and asks whether love means always telling the truth.
Articles about the writing of His Other House:
Sarah Armstrong, author of His Other House : Sydney Morning Herald, March 8, 2015
This Tangled Web: Courier Mail, March 14, 2015
Meet Sarah Armstrong, Author of ‘His Other House’ : Book Birdy, March 27, 2015
BOOK CLUB NOTES
His Other House has sparked some robust book club discussions. Click here to read the book club notes and for some conversation starters.
(Spoiler alert! I suggest you read these only if you’ve read the book)
RELATED BLOG POSTS
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT HIS OTHER HOUSE
LIFE gets complicated for Dr Quinn Davidson, who puts himself in a destructive love triangle that’s doomed from the very first kiss ...
The traumas are played out in the country, which Armstrong captures well. Rain drumming on the roof is described as a ‘comforting ocean of noise’. It’s a gripping read and the author poses the big questions about moral courage, honesty, love and infidelity.
There are no winners here and it is Davidson who suffers most in the end. This is Armstrong’s second novel. Her first, Salt Rain, was short-listed for several awards, including the Miles Franklin. This, her latest effort, may well head down the same road. 5 March 2015
Byron Shire Echo
The second novel, like the ‘difficult second album’ is often regarded by writers and critics as a problematical exercise.
Sarah need not have lost any sleep over it, however; His Other House is as well-rounded and satisfying as Salt Rain. Armstrong ploughs the rich field of human emotions and, simply put, His Other House is about a man caught in the web of his own deceit ... Armstrong keeps up the tension superbly, especially surrounding the potential dangers to small children … [She] maintains a high standard of writing throughout, deftly fleshing out the other characters ... A sombre work, His Other House is a tale well told. If you want heaps of jollies or moralistic assumptions, go elsewhere. But if you like a well-crafted work of art, then Armstrong’s your woman. 4 March 2015
It has been more than 10 years since Sarah Armstrong’s Miles Franklin-shortlisted debut Salt Rain, which was set in northern NSW and told from the perspective of a teenage girl. In her second novel, His Other House, Armstrong tackles more adult concerns... Armstrong’s prose is striking and clear; there is a tenderness to how her characters are portrayed. Marianna refers to the “perfect hopeful shape of her uterus”. Rachel, caring for her dying mother, “inhaled her mother’s smell and tried to store it away”. Armstrong pays scrupulous attention to her characters’ inner lives; we feel an intimacy with their thoughts, so we empathise with them rather than judge.... READ MORE.
The novel promotes the idea that morality is never a fixed compass. It is buoy without anchor that floats with the current, tossed about by uncertainty, instinct and context. All of these characters have a sense of what is ‘right’ but the fallout from the decisions they make reveal that one’s conscience is an imperfect guide... The novel promotes the idea that morality is never a fixed compass. It is buoy without anchor that floats with the current, tossed about by uncertainty, instinct and context. All of these characters have a sense of what is ‘right’ but the fallout from the decisions they make reveal that one’s conscience is an imperfect guide... READ MORE.
Australian Women's Weekly
The clue to this extraordinarily compelling tale of the big moments in life - birth and death - lies in its title, but to elaborate on Sarah Armstrong’s seemingly simple plot would betray the book’s deep, intertwining roots. Dr Quinn Davidson (who 1. smokes, 2. smokes and 3. offers a child cash when he knocks him over) is married to drop-dead gorgeous Marianna, who, after four miscarriages suggest an egg donor, but Quinn is against the idea.
The seemingly gentle medic is caring for Parkinson’s disease-ridden Emily, mother of an ABC journalist correspondent, Rachel Gordon. Water is elemental in the word flow - strong swimmer Rachel blames herself for the drowning of baby brother Scott in a river; storms lash her mother’s country property as they gingerly broach that fatal day; and a pair of goggles seals the deal on a messy affair between Quinn and Rachel.
As Armstrong unleashes a tour de force, inevitably, the children suffer the most. Set against subtropical Australian sun, corrugated roof, lush green and sugar cane, this savage reminder of family history repeating, of secrets and of loss, is not depressing, but surfaces with vigour and a new day always ready to dawn.