We, the House (Paperback)
We, the House begins in 1878 in the frontier town of Newton on the Kansas prairie. There a battered Civil War Union veteran builds his new wife her dream house, an Italianate glory she names Ambleside who tells this story. Soon an early American portrait of Mrs. Simon Peale arrives from Hartford, Connecticut to dignify the dining room wall. She can hear and see what goes on inside the house. He can see what occurs outside. Each is isolated and alone until the portrait's existential yelp causes house and painting to discover each other, Ambleside is a perfect 'tabula rasa, ' almost literally born yesterday, and Mrs. Peale is a devastated young widow, a starchy professor of Latin, who has been dead since 1841. She is eager to teach and Ambleside is an avid learner. Together over 130 years, through the lives and generations of 'their' family, the two works of art witness and try to comprehend the panorama of American social history-from women's suffrage, three wars, the ice box, photography, and the invention of the two-by-four, to indoor plumbing and electrification, the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and Dachau, foxglove, the Love That Dare Not Speak its Name, the song of the catbird, and Little Women. Over the decades, a most unusual love develops between them and quietly deepens, until one day in 2010 an art historian from New York happens to see the portrait of Mrs. Peale and, abruptly, everything changes.