Light Hearted And Fun
Open House by Jane Christmas is a most entertaining look at moving house, renovating and exploring reasons as to why the author is a serial renovator.
Jane Christmas has lived in thirty two houses. She is a Canadian now living in Bristol. Apparently Canadians move regularly in contrast with the British who are move adverse. The say opposites attract. The Husband, who is British and doesn’t like either moving or renovating, has been uprooted from London to Bristol via Brixham! The result is very amusing as the reader looks in but the tension is palpable.
I loved Jane Christmas’ style of writing. She was warm, friendly, honest and open. It felt like reading a letter from a dear friend.
The reader gets an intimate glimpse into the author’s life. We hear about her being raped (the subject of a previous book) in 1983 which has forever defined her life since then.
Jane Christmas is very open about her struggles – not just the rape – but her desire to be loved by her parents. “I craved my parent’s attention and love.” Her parents believed “Property first, people second.” It is very sad to read that.
There are many rich experiences found within the houses she has lived. A house is more than just a house. “Human history has shaped this place… Grief and love have intermingled in its mortar.”
The reader becomes acquainted with some of her previous houses. I found the account of the house with the ghost very chilling.
Open House is a fun read. I recognised myself in many of the British traits – I knew we were a nation of tea drinkers but had no idea that we were so fixated on doors!
Open House is a perfect read for a dark autumnal day as it will inject light and life and humour into our lives.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
Please see an article on Open House from the Daily Mail
Here is Jane Christmas’ Instagram link:
Here is her website:
Open House: A Life in Thirty-Two Moves
Jane’s reflections on her 32 house moves explore what ‘home’ really means to us today, with themes including restlessness, parenting, friendship,
marriage breakdown, xenophobia, rape trauma, and more
‘An insightful, rollicking read!’
Plum Johnson, They Left Us Everything
‘How well Christmas understands our modern ambivalence between stability and change, between the profound comfort of home and the excitement of novelty.’
Katherine Ashenburg, The Mourner’s Dance
‘I love moving house. I love the search for a new house, the packing up and
the subsequent assessment and decluttering of all that I am, when old and
new face off in a fight to survive the charity shop box. I love planning a
new space, designing and styling the interior, thumbing through stacks of
paints and fabric swatches. I love the ruminating, the budgeting, the
logistical organisation… I love the pulse-quickening chaos of the move,
the settling in and discerning if, finally, this is the right place. The
words ‘in need of improvement’ are click bait to me. Buying a home has never frightened me or kept me awake at night; buying a car, yes; perhaps an item of clothing; but never a house… I have sat on the sofa in a home I have just moved into and immediately started swiping left and right on
Rightmove.’ Jane Christmas
Studies have consistently reported that moving is one of the most stressful
life events. On average, Britons move house 3 times in their lives,
Canadians move house 7 times in their lives, and Americans move house 11
times in their lives. At the age of 63, Jane Christmas has moved house an
incredible 32 times! She admits to being a ‘serial adulterer’ when it comes
to homes. ‘To some people, 32 house moves looks like recklessness; to me, 32 moves looks like life,’ she writes in her new book Open House. ‘Houses and renovations and moving are an addiction to me; I desperately want to settle, but as hard as I try, I just can’t.’
By the age of 9, Jane had lived in 3 different houses and attended 5
different schools. Her mother was the driving force behind the constant
uprooting. ‘People are important but they will not get you ahead in life,’
she told Jane. ‘Only property can do that. Property first, people second.’
Open House explores Jane’s childhood as a ‘property nomad’ and how this
pattern continued into her adult life. She reflects on marital homes, homes
where she has lived as a single parent with her children, and most recently,
on her search for the elusive ‘perfect home’ with her third husband – ‘a
creature of routine and stability’ who lived in the same 2 bedroom flat in
London for 25 years before he met Jane. After viewing 60 potential homes,
Jane describes how she and her husband succumb to emotional fatigue and buy an overpriced house in Bristol in dire ‘need of improvement’, which requires more money to renovate than they can afford and that neither of them really even like. As Jane’s nightmare renovation begins, memories of her past resurface – a strict and peripatetic childhood, lost friends, rape trauma, divorces, suicide attempts – and threaten to shake the foundations of her marriage. As she contemplates her life and her many homes along the way, ultimately Jane realises that our loved ones are ‘the vital joists that
underpin our lives’. Hilarious, moving and thought-provoking, Open House: A Life in Thirty-Two Moves wanders through the front door for a peek into the places we call home.
Jane Christmas is the author of several bestselling books, including
Incontinent on the Continent and And Then There Were Nuns. Born and raised in Toronto, Jane moved to the UK in 2012. She has lived in Walthamstow, Brixham and Longwell Green, and now lives in Bristol with her husband.