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keeping the house

When Dolly Magnuson moves to Pine Rapids, Wisconsin in 1950, she discovers all too soon that making marriage work is harder than it looks in the pages of the Ladies’ Home Journal.  Dolly tries to adapt to her new life—keeping the house, supporting her husband’s career, fretting about dinner menus. She even gives up her dream of flying an airplane, and instead tries to fit in at the stuffy Ladies Aid quilting circle.  Soon, though, her loneliness and restless imagination are seized by the vacant house on the hill, and, as Dolly’s own life and marriage become increasingly difficult, she begins to lose herself in piecing together the shocking story of three generations of Mickelson men and women:  Wilma Mickelson, who came to Pine Rapids as a new bride in 1896, and fell in love with a man who was not her husband; her oldest son, Jack, who fought as a Marine in the trenches of the First World War; and Jack’s son, JJ, a troubled veteran of World War II, who returns home to discover Dolly in his grandparents’ house.  As the crisis in Dolly’s marriage escalates and she seeks answers from JJ’s stories of his family’s past, KEEPING THE HOUSE moves back and forth in time, exploring themes of wartime heroism and passionate love, of the struggles of men with fatherhood and war, of women with conformity, identity, forbidden dreams and love.  Rich in period atmosphere and in 1950s detail, KEEPING THE HOUSE illuminates the courage it takes to shape and reshape a life, and the difficulty of ever knowing the truth about another person’s desires.  KEEPING THE HOUSE is an unforgettable novel about small town life and big matters of the heart.