I found , much to my alarm, that I purchased Maud’s House by Sherry Roberts in 2012. It has obviously languished on my Kindle from that date and I only picked it to read now because it fitted the theme for November. I am glad that I did.
This novel can best be described as quirky which is not a label I use a lot but I can’t think of any other way to give the feel of the book. The story is set in a small town in Vermont where Maud has lived all her life and where she was known locally for painting every surface in her family home and the outbuildings. Tourists used to come to see the autumn leaf colours but also to see Maud’s house. When Maud married George he was jealous of her art which he didn’t really understand. He liked the cosy greetings card she drew but he didn’t like the big pictures and he painted the house white. As the novel opens George is dead and Maud spends a lot of her time arguing with him in her head or visiting the cemetery to kick his grave.
It is obvious that Maud’s friend T-Bone loves her but they both pretend that they don’t know this and Maud continues with her life as a waitress and a repository for secrets from other townspeople. Each person in the town that we hear about experiences loss of some kind during the book – for some it is an item that they lose or which is destroyed, for others it is an injury which changes their ability to do what they used to, and for some it is a relationship or their faith that is lost. Maud navigates her way through the problems of the town as her relationship with T-Bone grows and as she begins to paint again (although she can mostly only paint cows).
The book is funny in places and touching in others. The town has unusual characters which almost but not quite become unrealistic. There are some big issues hidden within the story but the author manages to sort everything out and bring the book to a satisfactory ending. I have no idea why I originally downloaded this book (although it was probably in a sale) but I am glad that I did. Once I had adapted to Maud’s narrative voice and her discussions with her dead husband I was engaged and hoping for her talent to re-emerge. An interesting story, engagingly told.