Today we're delighted to welcome author Lauren Willig to Heroes and Heartbreakers. The heroine of Lauren's latest novel, That Summer, inherits a house in England, and it's through sorting through things in the house that she discovers a great and wonderful mystery, which she's determined to solve. She also—maybe—finds romance. Lauren is here to talk about the house books that inspired That Summer. Thanks, Lauren!
It’s a gray day. The rain is pattering down against your window. When suddenly, on your doorstep, arrives a letter. It’s come air mail, from a firm of solicitors in London, informing you that you’ve inherited a house from a great-aunt (or uncle, or step-parent, or cousin fifteen times removed) whom you never knew.
It might be a scam.
But then again… it might not.
I grew up on what I think of as “house books:" books in which the heroine inherits, house-sits, or otherwise inhabits a gloomy old house crammed with mysteries. These houses were frequently located in England (if the Gothics I devoured in my teens were to be believed, solicitors’ schedules were entirely taken up by sending letters to American legatees), but could also be in the American South, remote parts of Pennsylvania or New England, or atmospheric bits of the Continent, like Portugal or the South of France.
Some house books had elements of the paranormal; others were all about the atmospheric scenery and brooding heroes. They ran the gamut from ghost stories to tales of suspense to heart-warming small town antics. Having done a very scientific study of the books on my shelves, mostly involving lying prone on the sofa with a pile of books, and a hot cup of tea balanced on my stomach, I’ve decided that there are four major species of House Book, to wit: