#SheReviews “Other People’s Houses” by Kelli Hawkins

August 25, 2021

First up, a disclaimer; you will never view another open home with the same anticipatory naivete once you have read Australian author Kelli Hawkins’ debut novel, “Other People’s Houses”. The novel predominantly takes place in a maudinly idyllic Sydney winter. Our protagonist, Kate Webb, has ten years prior to the currently explained events, lost her young son, Sascha. Kate is now disingenuously obsessed with spending her Saturdays visiting open homes on Sydney’s prestigious north shore in a pervasively recalcitrant hungover state. Then one Saturday in July, she happens upon the salubriously elegant Harding family home, and her life is forever altered. As Kate notes to herself after viewing the property, “The Harding house was perfect”.
The house is Georgian Revival, circa 1930, and Kate knows from the outset after observing the extravagant interiors that “With the Harding house, anything seemed possible”. Kate, in her curious inner musings, stumbles across a photo of the Harding family (the perfect family) and realises that the owners, as well as the house itself, are special. In the photo, husband Brett Harding, an astonishingly successful businessman, stands beside his ethereally beautiful wife, Pip, and handsome teenage son (a student at an elite private school in Sydney), Kingsley. At first glance at the Harding son, Pip believes for one shocking instant that it is her son, Sascha. Soon realising this is not the case, Kate’s interest in the Harding family and house is piqued by this disturbing mistake, and she soon begins an initially inoccuous, but utimately dangerous fixation on the family and their hidden inner workings.
When Kate makes the discovery that Pip Harding and the man charged with the selling of the Harding house, Roger, are having a clandestine affair, Kate ruthlessly stalks the Hardings – initially on social media, and later ubiquitously in the flesh. When two people are found dead, is Kate in any way to blame, has she gone too far and can she ever extricate herself from the Hardings?
The reader is tossed back and forth between July and August in Sydney, and Kate’s earlier seemingly idyllic and then not so picture perfect life with her husband, Peter, and adored son Sascha. Kate is an alcoholic at the time of being obsessed with the Hardings, but as we learn more of Kate’s heartbreaking background story, we as readers come to understand the bleak and seemingly futile nature of Kate’s existence.
I recommend this book for lovers of Liane Moriarty novels, or in fact anyone who loves a good mystery, while discovering that grief often tumbles one down a rabbit hole that isn’t always easy to emerge from. The twists and turns in “Other People’s Houses” keep on being delivered in captivating detail. I loved this book.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.