Book - 2014
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Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family -- bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna -- have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone.
Publisher: New York, New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2014]
ISBN: 9780062223197
Characteristics: 303 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

“A family comes to terms with their estranged father’s death in Oliver’s first novel for adults. Told from the perspective of two ghosts living in the old house, this unique story weaves characters and explores their various past connections. Great book!”

Rachel Fewell, Denver Public Library, ... Read More »

From the critics

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Dec 12, 2018

Oliver's debut adult novel is both beautiful and haunting. Oliver answers the age old question of, "What if these walls could talk?" in this tale that weaves narratives of ghosts of the past with the secrets being kept by the Walker family in the present.

ArapahoeKati Jun 28, 2017

Looking for a ghost story that's a little different? Oliver's debut novel for adults surprised me in the best way.

Aug 21, 2015

The author uses short sentences with important meaning behind. For example:
p. 232
Sandra asked Alice: “What happened to his child. Alice?”

P.244 Alice: “ … somehow _suddenly_unfamiliar. Deep inside my belly, the baby kicked, restless.”

p. 295
Alice says; “She was blue when she came out blue, and so cold.

Dec 31, 2014

A quickie review. All the characters are pretty awful in this book, which makes it all the more amazing that Oliver actually made me care what happened to them. It's unique storytelling format that is part ghost story part family drama. Rooms is full of deeply flawed characters and slow burning mysteries with turns of phrase that are quite beautiful at times.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Nov 26, 2014

A solid, realistic ghost story in which the reader hears directly from the ghosts while also gaining perspective about the living characters in alternating chapters. Room by room, the history of a house and its interesting (though not necessarily likeable) occupants come together like pieces in a puzzle. A few quibbles aside, I really liked it.

kirstd31 Nov 08, 2014

The viewpoints from all the different characters made the book fun to read. The book made me read till the last page. I had to find out what happened to the ghosts. Good book.

KateHillier Nov 06, 2014

Family drama on two plains. In the land of the living a shattered family returns to a house after a man dies to sort through his affairs and bury his remains on the property. There's nasty memories of divorce, womanzing, and various issues between all the family members. Meanwhile, on the ghostly side of things, two ghosts (women who died in this house) watch the proceedings, fight and bicker with each other, and then try to deal with the sudden appearance of a third ghost.

It's inventive and I was hooked for the first little bit but after a bit it just didn't have the same draw. I didn't really have much sympathy for much anyone. A little bit for some of the kids but aside from that it was a little too much soap opera for me.

lbarkema Oct 29, 2014

A very different and unique story, and as always I love the way in which Oliver writes and tells her stories. But, there was just something a little bit missing from the novel and I can't quite put my finger on it. It might be my lack of empathy for any of the characters, and I wasn't necessarily as engrossed in it as I hoped to be or as I have been in the past with her other novels or other books in general. Overall, a interesting story and I would still recommend it for something different.

Oct 28, 2014

"A chilling ghost story and much, much more." Rooms is definitely not your typical ghost story - it is more about the secrets that the characters, both living and dead, keep from each other.
It was hard to put this book down - I wanted to know what was keeping the ghosts tied to the house. The conversations and observations seen through the eyes of the ghosts were often funny and served as a commentary to what the human inhabitants of the house were doing.
We learnt things about the human characters through the ghosts that they wouldn't confess themselves. As for the secrets that the ghosts were keeping: "Everything comes up in the end."

At the death of her ex-husband and father of her two children, Caroline and the kids return to their former family home to clean up the estate and read the will. They however are not the only ones stuck in this house with unresolved issues. The cast of characters includes several ghosts, community members past and present, and a runaway girl, who all, along with the house, play a part in bringing closure to both the living and the dead.
Will appeal to adults and older teens who enjoy supernatural but realistic family conflicts.


Add a Quote
Aug 21, 2015

P. 140.
Sandra said: “Memory is as thick as mud. It rises up, it overwhelms. It sucks you down and freezes you where you stand.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 299
Alicia said: I didn’t mean for her to die. Believe this if you believe anything.
Ed was on his way home from the war.
I couldn’t’ return to my family. I had no close friends besides Thomas. But she held on. Little Penelope, my poor little Penelope, who didn’t know how to do anything but live.
She came at last, Queen Penelope, riding a carpet of blood: blue and cold, like someone left too long in the ice.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 289
Sandra told Alice; “You need to let go, Alice. That’s the whole trick. Let go of everything.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 281 Alice says “They are digging. Under the willow tree.”
Everything comes up in the end.

Aug 21, 2015

Sandra said: “Don’t think I feel sorry for myself. The way I figure it, life’s the sum total of all our small mistakes, little tragedies, bad choices. Addition on top of addition. They pile up and pile up until the cost of keeping up appearances is too high and the weight is just too much.
Then: collapse.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 119
Alice said:
“Maggie was a stranger to me in her adult life, a stiff-backed, short-haired woman with tastes and habits I hardly recognized. … Amazing, isn’t it? That hearts that once beat in sync could be so perfectly and forever separated. That’s the whole process of life, I think: a long, slow process of separation.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 107
Alice said:
“ … I remember my mother’s hands wrapped thickly around my neck, and the light of the bathroom, bright as a halo.”

Aug 21, 2015

p. 92
Cissy said: “You can’t leave it behind, it doesn’t work like that. It is like spiders.”

Aug 19, 2015

p. 77
I suppose, in some sense, wills are like maps: they are the imprint we leave, the places our affections have been entrenched; the work we have done; the money we have burrowed away; the furrows and the paths that lead back to spaces we have gone, and maked, and loved.”

Aug 14, 2015

p. 73
“She had never seen snow before, except in TV … It had looked to her like the stars were flaking out of the sky. It had looked like thousands of fireflies in the moonlight.”


Add a Summary
Aug 30, 2015

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning. It was not a scary ghost story, and not only had one mystery. The living and death characters had secrets. I had the feeling that they were trapped. The ghosts stuck in an abusive relationship, Caroline trapped with the addiction, Mina abused as a child and Trenton surrounded by a dysfunctional family and with suicidal thoughts. I was looking forward to pick the book up at lunch time and before bed time.
I liked the author style; she gave us short sentences with deeper meaning. (P.281 Alice says:”They are digging. Under the willow tree. Everything comes to an end.”)
(p.289) Sandra told Alice: “You need to let go, Alice. That’s the whole trick. Let go of everything.”
I was also intrigued with Alice. She seemed a very strong woman.
I don’t know if these lines on page 107 answered the question about how Alice died.
Alice was speaking“… I remember my mother’s hands wrapped thickly around my neck, and the light of the bathroom, bright as a halo.”
Did Alice’s mother kill her?
I like the ending of the book. Alice saying: “thank you” to Trenton and the big fire of the house.


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