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BOOK REVIEW:

The irresistible Henry House : a novel

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The premise of Grunwald's charming novel was inspired by a home economics curriculum studied by many young women at American colleges during the first half of the 20th century. To help students gain hands-on experience in homemaking and child-rearing, local orphanages would supply colleges with a "practice baby" to be looked after by student "mothers."

Baby Henry comes to the Wilton College home economics practice house in 1946, and finds himself with seven loving mothers. But instead of being returned to the orphanage at the end of the school year, Henry stays on, and spends his childhood being raised by a rotating team of student mothers. The only constants in his life are the stern house mother, Martha Gaines, who cares for Henry more than she can show, and his dear friend Mary Jane. And though he is confident, talented, and irresistible to women, Henry's unconventional upbringing leaves a few scars, too.

Grunwald follows Henry with an almost breathless enthusiasm as he makes his way in a rapidly changing world, from the New York publishing world, to Walt Disney's Burbank studio in the early 60s, to a psychedelic, Beatles-crazed London. With dazzling scenery, fascinating characters, and page-turning momentum, Henry House is hard to resist.

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