Sunday, April 02, 2023

The Roof Over Our Heads, by Nicole Kronzer

Finn's family are all about the theatre.  They even live in a Golden Age mansion owned by the region's major theatre Beauregard.  But appearances can be deceiving on the stage:  the mansion is falling apart and, while Finn's mothers and siblings are all successes, Finn is always flubbing his lines.  The truth is that Finn is really much more successful in the kitchen than on stage.

Family is family and the one thing that has kept Finn's family together is this old mansion.  So, when the new artistic director for Beauregard announces that they can no longer afford to maintain the property and need to sell it, the family comes together with a plan to save it.  It is a family dream to stage a historical murder mystery about the original inhabitants of the mansion -- the Jorgensens -- in the house itself.  But with the dire need for funds, the plan is now extended to host a special dinner for VIPs at $1000 a plate as part of an exclusive televised performance.  That's all well and good until things start going wrong.

Mix into all of this a complex web of subplots worthy of Downton Abbey and you get the whirlwind of this novel.  There's romance and intrigue, coming to terms with the past, and a main protagonist who sorts his entire life out in 340 action-packed pages.  With a huge cast of characters it can be hard to keep up with everything that is going on, but the story is forgiving and coaches you so you don't get completely lost.  There are many things to like about this book.  I particularly enjoyed the mash-up of manor home posing with modern sensibilities as the cast (largely made up of high school drama kids) are forced to live in character as upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the play.  Great fun!

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