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Sixpence House

I should have liked this book more. In fact, I did like this book more while I was reading it, it just didn’t stick through past the end, the liking that is. This is a charming tale about an American writer and his wife and son who decide to move to the UK, more specifically to Hay-on-Wye, this little town in the middle of noplace that has recently become known for having a preponderance of booksellers. There’s a nutty old anarchist who lives in part of a ruined castle and the usual folks you meet abroad. Collins has just finished his first book and is awaiting the reports from the proofreader and he and his wife try to find a house to call a home in this wacky little town.

Except they don’t, really. Stay, that is. They seem to be intending to move to the UK with all the changing countries and putting the kid in a new school and leaving their families behind, etc. It seems like a real commitment. However, I was about 2/3 of the way through the book before I realized “Hey, they haven’t even found a place they want to buy yet...” when I realized they weren’t staying, they couldn’t stay. This is a book about people who thought they were going to stay and didn’t. They move back to Oregon in the end.

The book also talks a lot about Hay-on-Wye which I’m sure is charming as all hell and probably an interesting place to visit. The locals were portrayed as just a bit too lovable-eccentric for my tastes, but overall the author is a guy who loves books and likes to be around them and can tell you why. It’s interesting to read his observations, even if in the end he turns out to sort of be a quitter. I read his acknowledgements at the end, saw where he thanked Dave Eggers, and thought “Hmmph, figures.”