The House That Made Us – Alice Cavanagh | Book Review |#TheHouseThatMadeUs @julietstories @TeamBATC

One Day meets Up: The House That Made Us is a love story – and a life story – told through a series of photographs and inspired by a true story.

When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship.

Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full.

Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?

A heart-breaking story about life and love for readers who love Holly Miller, Jojo Moyes and Hazel Prior.


July 1970, a house called Sunnyside and a newly married couple Marie and Ian (Mac) Mactavish. Mac is attempting to carry Marie over the threshold. The first photograph and their first meeting with the grumpy neighbour who was forever known as ‘Next Door’. There will be many more photographs taken outside the door of Sunnyside, each one documenting their life together, the fashion faux pas, the ups and the downs.

Marie came from a large boisterous Irish family, whereas Mac had virtually no family at all. Apart from his aunt Tatty who wasn’t the most effusive of women when it came to attention and affection.

Marie and Mac’s story was one of love, happiness, sorrow and humour. Every time an emergency depleted their much wanted cruise savings or forced their plans to change, my heart broke a little for them. Every family crisis, each drama involving their children and wider family was told with warmth and compassion. It wasn’t just Marie and Mac that captivated me with their big hearts, but the rest of the family too; including the fiercely independent Tatty, the drama that formed the life of Marie’s sister Bernie, the two Adrians – characters so engaging and likeable. I couldn’t help smiling at Marie’s devotion to Princess Diana, an obsession borne from sadness. I felt her disappointment when she had to keep putting her own career ambitions on hold. “The universe was petty. Why does it keep ruining my dreams, when they’re so small they’re barely visible to the naked eye?” Mac’s yearning for a father in his life made me feel so grateful for the one that used to be in mine.

Another perspective, In the present day, and alongside Mac and Marie’s story is that of an older couple and a woman with a fading memory looking though a photo album. These interactions were cleverly worked into the story and I found these segments incredibly poignant, reminding me of my own parents and their hundreds of photos which I have.

Inspired by a true story, The House that Made Us reflects on love, family, and lives well-lived both in good times and bad. Alongside the smiles there were times when I had something in my eye but I absolutely loved it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. I already have it marked as one of my favourite books of the year.

My thanks to SJV of Simon & Schuster for the tour invite and for the paperback to review.

Here, on the Simon & Schuster, Books and the City website, is a beautiful article on photographs and the inspiration behind the book, Alice Cavanagh on Photographs

Alice Cavanagh lives in London and comes from an Irish family. She is a romantic at heart and when not writing loves spending time with her family and her dogs. She writes under a variety of names, including her real name, Bernadette Strachan, and as Juliet Ashton.


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