Friday, August 25, 2017

The Judge's House

Jonathan Strong
Quale Press
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars


The judge's house contains mysteries unknown to Lawrence and Nancy Huggins, who have moved in next door. Reassigned to a small-town branch of his Chicago bank, manager Lawrence and pediatrician Nancy find themselves the sole African American professional couple in Rockvale, Illinois. They are also the only townsfolk to have befriended their reclusive next-door neighbor, old Will Turley. After Will dies accidentally, he leaves his grand brick house, with all its contents, and which has been for decades his refuge from the torments of his youth, to them.

My Review

I like the premise of this novella, which starts with the death of an older man from a fall on the ice outside his house.

Inexplicably, Will Turley leaves his house and its contents to his neighbors, Lawrence and Nancy Huggins, a black professional couple transplanted from Chicago to the small, predominantly white town of Rockvale.

While they were not close friends, the Hugginses have invited Turley to their home and cooked him dinner on numerous occasions while others kept their distance from the solitary old man.

This quiet story explores the lives of Lawrence and Nancy, their daughter, Chloe, and their friends and acquaintances. It also gradually connects us with Will Turley’s troubled past, as Lawrence and Nancy learn about each other and their neighbor while sifting through the contents of their new home.

This is a story that deals with starting over and fitting in. It explores human relationships – between family members, friends, neighbors – and the secrets that keep them apart.

I started out enjoying the spare writing style which felt a little old-fashioned even though this is a modern story. I like the chapter titles which make it easier to find a quote or significant event. As I continued reading, I found the pacing sluggish, the details sparse, and felt distant from the characters and events. By the time I finished, I was very underwhelmed.