A House for Alice
In the early hours of June 14, 2017, the world watches as flames leap up the sides of a residential high-rise in West London, consuming Grenfell Tower and many of the lives within it. Across town, an earlier spark has caught fire. A cigarette left burning in an ashtray. A table strewn with post-it reminders and old newspapers. And one Cornelius Winston Pitt—estranged husband, complicated dad, and Pitt family patriarch—takes his final breaths alone.
These twin tragedies open Diana Evans’s A House for Alice, an aching portrait of a family of women shaken by loss and searching for closure. At the novel’s center is Alice herself, the Pitt matriarch who, after fifty years in England, now longs to live out her final years in her homeland of Nigeria. Her three daughters are torn on the issue of whether she stays or goes, and while youngest sibling Melissa also grapples with the embers of her own failed relationship, the Pitt family’s foundational pillars—of trust, love, and cultural identity—begin to crack.
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September 12, 2023