keeping the house
Keeping the House ...
"Ellen Baker’s first novel, KEEPING THE HOUSE, is a quilt that grids a small Midwestern town in the middle of the last century. Under this writer’s deft hands, each square is a story, a mystery, an indiscretion, a tale of the great house and grand family who once ruled there. Even more, it captures the roles of women then, living embodiments of demure ideals, and those who couldn’t fit the pattern. Edith Wharton’s novels of domestic despair and display come to mind with each page."
— Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"A born storyteller, Ellen Baker has written an enthralling family saga filled with three generations of memorable characters and capturing the dreams and frustrations of twentieth century women. Wonderful, spot-on historical detail."
— Faith Sullivan, author of Gardenias and The Cape Ann
"Ellen Baker has written the novel I've been waiting to read for a very long time. It's the book you want to curl up with, the book you rush home to, the book you wish you'd written. In KEEPING THE HOUSE Ellen Baker serves up the complexities of family relationships, the anguish of victims of wars, the innermost thoughts of women, and the social mores of the past. Seasoned with mysteries that kept me devouring pages, this is one huge gourmet feast of a book for readers to savor."
— Bev Marshall, author of Right as Rain and Walking through Shadows
"Brimming with luscious details that authenticate the story's various time periods, from early to mid-twentieth century, Baker's accomplished, ambitious debut novel is a majestic, vibrant multigenerational saga in the finest tradition of the genre."
"Baker's sprawling debut recounts the woes of a wealthy Midwestern family from the turn of the 20th century to the dawn of the 1950s... Appealing characters and a deft, non-linear structure generate interest and suspense."
— Kirkus Reviews
"KEEPING THE HOUSE is one of those 'impossible to put down' books that I want to continue living inside, long after the words on the pages end. The characters have strength of purpose."
— Anna Haverty, The Book Clinic, Nebraska City, NE
"Do yourself a major favor at the bookstore this summer: Pick up Ellen Baker’s KEEPING THE HOUSE and start reading. Don’t be surprised if you can’t put it down. For hot summer nights, American fiction just doesn’t get any better than this."
— Buffalo News
"[KEEPING THE HOUSE] carries us along under the power of vivid prose and complex family history, inviting us to imagine men and women fashioning new lives in the context of war, rigid moral codes and the consequences of their own choices regarding personal relationships. KEEPING THE HOUSE is an achievement of plot and character, introducing Ellen Baker as an author who knows how to keep us turning the pages."
— Chicago Tribune
"I remember thinking to myself about two thirds of the way through the book that I could get lost in the lives of the characters forever. The story has its fair share of romantic entanglements, family betrayals and all sorts of intriguing twists and turns... Not only is the plot fascinating, but Baker’s use of language captivated me as well... I thoroughly enjoyed the delightful metaphors appearing throughout Baker’s prose."
— The Stanford Daily
"This story does what all good stories should do: It takes you places -- some homey and warm, and others where you'd rather not go... Baker does a skillful job of painting a picture of early 20th-century society, blending it with an intricate look at a single family's experience to create a compelling drama that is full of love, conflict, loss, and life."
"Writing a novel for the first time is a daunting enough task, but taking on a family saga spanning 50 years is truly a grand accomplishment -- especially when executed as beautiful as Ellen Baker's KEEPING THE HOUSE. From the very first page I was so effortlessly drawn under the spell of her authentic characters and wonderful storytelling that I found myself becoming petulant whenever real life vied for my attention... KEEPING THE HOUSE is a superb debut from a bright new talent."
— Bonnie Trachtenberg, Book-of-the-Month Club
"This is Baker's first novel, and a crackerjack debut it is. She has given us real people, confused and struggling with real situations, and a taut mystery as well. We look forward to more from this talented pen."
— Fredricksburg Freelance Star
"Baker has scored a victory with KEEPING THE HOUSE. For all its length, it flows smoothly, and the prose is so assured, it's difficult to believe this is the author's first novel. Baker's future as a fiction writer looks promising - as prosperous as the halcyon decades that followed World War II in America."
— Philadelphia Inquirer
"Baker ... nails the vernacular of each time period. And her artful descriptions put her leagues ahead of other recent debuts in this genre -- one that teeters somewhere between commercial women's and literary fiction."
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Rich and absorbing and satisfying."
— Roanoke Times
"Baker is an excellent storyteller. Her sense of pace and conflict keeps the pages turning, and her characters, in their generously illuminated internal worlds, are sympathetic even when they act wrongly."
— Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star
"I absolutely loved KEEPING THE HOUSE and will say that it has become one of my favorite books I have ever read. I loved the character and plot development and the periods in which the story was set... Rich in detail...thought provoking and moving. An edge-of-your-seat gripping tale of family secrets and love lost and won."
— Planet Books
"KEEPING THE HOUSE was both a guilty pleasure for a nosy gossip-monger like me and a valid opportunity to live in some of the conflicts that consume me: an attraction to the Donna Reed image of matching my apron to my pumps and suspending fruit in Jell-o with an aversion to parenthood and a drive to surpass my husband's career ambitions before turning 30."
— Jenny, Michigan
"Oh my gosh! I have NEVER enjoyed a book so much in my life! I am a 28 year old housewife, mother of a 1 and 2 year old, and I found myself last night putting them in their highchairs and allowing them to eat ice cream cones just so I could steal a few more moments with the book!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!"
— Hannah, Kentucky