For the month of May, my book club chose to read The Memory House by Rachel Hauck. A New York Times bestseller, widely known for her wedding-themed novels, I’d only read one of Rachel’s books before beginning The Memory House. Starting this book late and without reading the synopsis, I had no idea what to expect or if I’d finish the book before the end of the month. However, The Memory House enraptured me, and within a couple of days, the last words of the audiobook were spoken, and I was left wanting more!
Centering on the lives of four individuals, The Memory House takes us on a journey through time. Everleigh Applegate and Don Callahan are navigating life in the 1950s, where women are expected to marry and have children, while the men are supposed to follow in their father’s footsteps; meanwhile, Beck Holiday and Bruno Endicott are in our time battling trials of their own.
He’d been to war. Slept in the open. Waded through rivers and streams with water up to his chest. He’d killed the enemy. Yet he couldn’t find the words to tell his father he hated working for Standish Dewey.
Married with a baby on the way, Everleigh Applegate couldn’t be happier. She is a wife to the man of her dreams and about to start building their dream house, but when a tornado tears through the town of Waco, Texas, one spring day, all of Everleigh’s hopes and dreams are swept away with it.
Joining the puppies, she huddled in the dark underground and with one long, anxious breath, released her fears with a scream that rivaled the fury raging above.
Widowed and childless, Everleigh mourns her husband’s death and moves in with her mother, who is also a widow. Succumbing to her new life, with no bright future seemingly in reach, Everleigh believes she is content, but that all changes when she runs into her old high school friend, Don Callahan. Before long, Everleigh begins to question her choices. Lighting a spark inside of her, Everleigh soon finds the doors she’d trapped herself behind coming unlocked, but will the shame of loving someone else stop Everleigh from finding happiness again?
“Do you dance?” “Dance? Yes. But don’t tell my paster…He doesn’t know Jesus approves.”
Back in our time, Beck Holiday is an NYPD cop and has a growing secret that is becoming harder to hide by the day. Overwhelmed with emotions and recently suspended, receiving the letter from a lawyer in Florida couldn’t have come at a better time. Stunned to learn that she had inherited a house, Beck’s cop instincts immediately kick in, and questions rattle her brain as to why this has happened to her. Unable to ignore the letter or help her curiosity, Beck travels down to the orange state to investigate.
Having lost her memories after her dad’s death during 9/11, Beck’s time in Florida comes with its own complications. With no idea why the recently deceased lady of the house has gifted it to Beck, she does everything she can to remember her childhood. However, soon after her arrival, she meets Bruno Endicott, a boy she grew up with though she has no recollection of it. Will Beck’s time in Florida help her remember the memories that have been buried, and what about Bruno? Will their budding friendship only complicate her current situation more?
He’d kissed her in his heart before his velvet lips covered hers.
The Memory House was a compelling read. You would think that four points of view would be confusing, but the story was written so naturally that each viewpoint brought the story together in a magical way. Emotions flew off the pages, and the characters felt so real that I wondered if I was reading nonfiction rather than fiction. Rachel Hauck captures her audience with her words, always keeping Jesus at the center and tackling controversial topics in a sensitive yet inspiring way. Showing us that life is messy and not squeaky clean, The Memory House proved that even though we all sin, forgiveness and redemption are always available.
He suspected Mom’s prayers had a hand in some of this, but she never spoke to him about God. Instead, she did something more effective. She talked to God about her son.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book; my only wish is that it was longer! If you’re a long-time fan of Rachel Hauck, you’re going to go crazy over this novel; or, if you’re a newcomer, buckle up because once you’ve read this book, you’re going to want to read the rest of her published works, I know I do!
Exclusive Interview with the author, Rachel Hauck!
Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! I have many questions that I can’t wait to hear your answers to, so let’s get started!
Q. Your first book was published in 2004; what pushed you to write a novel?
RH: Since I was a little girl, I wanted to write. My father used to tell me, “Rachel, you’re a writer, be a writer.” After I married in ’92, the Lord led me to quit my job in ’93 and for the first time since I was 14, I wasn’t in school or working. So I had time to dream. Space to think. I started writing.
Q. How long did it take you to write your first book?
RH: My first book, a mammoth WW2 novel, took two years to write. But I learned a lot in the process.
Q. Did you ever doubt your ability? If so, how did you overcome it?
RH: Every artist doubts their ability from time to time, but you push on because you know it’s what you were made to do. I don’t let doubt overcome me. When I am in those weak moments, I pray. I give my fears to the Lord. He’s never failed me.
Q. Is there a book that inspired you growing up?
RH: I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was also profoundly impacted by Ellen Gunderson Traylor’s Song of Abraham. I always loved to read, but I also loved to imagine and tell stories. Writing books flowed out of those natural tendencies.
Q. Do you have a favorite moment when writing a book?
RH: When I was writing Softly and Tenderly with Sara Evans, I wanted to deepen the conversation between the characters June and Rebel. They were a southern, aristocratic, wealthy couple with a bit of a marriage problem. As I wrote their confrontation scene, I felt like there was something more. So I played the part of each character, talking to myself in the bathroom mirror. This amazing line came out, “You stole my son!” Well, it was a shocker, but it sent me on an interesting story twist. It’s one of my teaching moments for newer authors too.
Q. When strategizing a new novel, how do you come up with a storyline?
RH: I consider what I want to write, and then I start thinking. I might also read novels or non-fiction books to help me learn about a topic or geographical area. The more information I have, the more I can invent my own world. I also brainstorm with my story partner, Susan May Warren.
Q. This was the second book of yours I have read (The first was The Writing Desk); what inspired you to write The Memory House?
RH: The idea sparked from my original title, The House On Memory Lane. I wanted to know about this house… so I invented a story!
Q. The Memory House has many messages entwined with its storyline; what do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
RH: I always want the readers to be entertained and feel like they know the characters, even consider them as friends. Otherwise, I want them to walk away with a sense of hope. I want them to know God is with them.
Q. When writing the emotional scenes in The Memory House, was there a specific process you went through to make the emotions jump from the pages and into the hearts of your readers?
RH: Actually, those scenes are my favorite. I think it stems from when I was a kid and had an imaginary friend. She always had some sort of drama going on. I liked to “rumble” with her. You know, say the things to a pretend person you couldn’t say to a real one. Ha! Otherwise, I do the best I can to sink into the emotion of the moment and “speak” from there.
Q. Will there be a sequel?! (This one I’m dying to know) SPOILER ALERT!!
RH: Not at the moment. I’m not sure what I’d write. The trouble with a sequel is you have to mess up everyone’s life again. I like that Bruno and Beck are happy with baby Everleigh. If I told their story again, some tragedy would have to happen. I’m not sure I can do that to them.
Q. Tell me a little bit about the book’s cover; how was the design constructed?
RH: I love the cover. My publisher and I went back and forth on different houses for the cover then the designer came up with this one, and it was perfect.
Q. Is there a piece of advice you would like to give readers who have been inspired to write after reading one of your books?
RH: Learn the craft. Join a writing organization. Read craft books. I highly recommend learnhowtowriteanovel.com. Don’t be in a hurry. In these days of indie publishing, an author can get ahead of themselves. Be patient. Write the best book you can before publishing. Submit to the contest for feedback. Attend conferences.
Q. What are some of the most common traps aspiring authors stumble into?
RH: Usually, they get a handful of guidelines, and they turn them into rules. They become critical of other writers who bend those rules. In novel writing, there are only about 5 “rules.” The rest is just good storytelling. Learn to be a good storyteller. Also, don’t be overly critical of yourself. Just write. You can always fix your manuscript later. Which brings me to rewrites. Learn to love rewriting. Books aren’t written; they are rewritten. And find a good editor. Don’t trust the word of your family and friends. Submit your work to other professional writers for input.
Q. Any advice for those who have writer’s block?
RH: Keep writing. Read a craft book. Maybe you need some tips to get over the muddled middle. Also, don’t be critical. Writer’s block stems in fear. Let go of the fear of failing. Or the pride of wanting to write the next best book ever in the world.
Q. How do you delve into the mind of the opposite sex when writing their point of view?
RH: I grew up with brothers and their friends. One side of my cousins is mostly boys, so I’m familiar with the gender. If I have questions, I ask my husband. Then I try to think like a guy. I also pay attention to comments made by men in casual conversations. I pay attention to the differences between men and women.
Q. Lastly, is there a word of encouragement you wish you’d received when you became a full-time writer that you’d like to tell those reading this?
RH: Stick with it. That’s the best thing I can say. Write as much as you can on a daily or weekly basis. My good friend Debbie Macomber said once, “I’m a 25-year overnight success.” Publishing success takes time. So strap in for the long haul. 🙂
I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, Rachel! I hope that people reading this will be inspired to continue writing and look up your awesome books!