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Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House    by Meghan Daum order for
Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House
by Meghan Daum
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This is a book about buying houses. No, it is not filled with tips on where to find the best mortgage deal or how to handle a structure inspection. Rather it is about one person's foray into going from one house to another in various parts of the country trying to locate just the right domicile.

'There is no object of desire quite like a home,' says Meghan Daum in the book’s prologue. 'Few things in this world are capable of eliciting such urgent, even painful, yearning. Few sentiments are at once as honest and as absurd as the one that moves us to declare: Life would be perfect if I lived in that house.'

Not just the tale of the houses she bought, this story also touches on the apartments in New York she lived in, the houses she rented and the houses she tried to buy. But more importantly, Daum's book is about what happens when a person's identity becomes almost totally wrapped up not in who the individual is or how that person lives but rather in where she lives.

As the author explains, 'It's the story of how I came to care more about owning a house than committing to a partner or doing a job or even the ostensibly obvious fact that the sun would rise and set regardless of whether my name was on a mortgage.'

As you follow her odyssey from the east coast to Southern California, with stops along the way, you'll notice that Daum learns during the course of her many moves over many years that 'a house is not the same as a home'. This became quite evident after she lived in 18 residences in 15 years!

Although I thought this was a clever idea for a book, hence my willingness to read it, I must admit that this is really little more than a thinly disguised memoir that is masquerading as something you might find on the Home and Garden Television cable channel. And, as with any memoir, there's a risk of discovering you really don't care for the person who is baring his or her soul in the book. That was the case here. The more I read, the less I liked this woman. Although it eventually became rather tedious, I stuck with it and I did make it to the end. Of course, this book received rave reviews when it was issued in hardback, so I must admit perhaps the problem rests with me and my perception of Daum and her house obsession.

I think you won't have to read too far into this book before you decide for yourself if this is a story you wish to pursue. If the author's personality doesn't become a turn-off, then you might enjoy the journey in search of the perfect house!

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