Marshall has made a life, as a translator, finding and explicating the truest of meanings; here, she applies those exacting skills—and her considerable acumen as a prose stylist—to what Miranda Lambert calls “the house that made me,” as well as the people in it and the “cracks in our foundation that no one could fix.” As her story moves through the tumult of the 1960s and the years beyond, with Marshall often feeling herself to be ostracized onto the fringes of the family, Ivy Lodge finds her moving through this memory-haunted home, room by room, centering chapters on the rathskeller basement, the bedrooms (“fancy, impersonal, like showrooms of a model house before it’s occupied”), and the attic that reached from the “curving wrought iron stairs ascending from the foyer.”
Her portraits of family and accounts of conflicts (occasionally explosive, often quietly simmering) prove as striking as her descriptions of her beloved dolls, her father’s toy soldiers, and Ivy Lodge’s lofty gables. Even with such highly personal material, she proves a persuasive, perceptive analyst of the “Murphy dynamic.” Despite the pain of often being made to feel, even as an adult, as if she were unwanted—her mother regards her like she’s a "rare form of beetle under a microscope”—Marshall arrives at touching moments of empathy for the family as she sorts through it all.
Takeaway: A touching reckoning with a family, a home, and one’s place in both, in elegant prose.
Great for fans of: J. Nicole Jones’s Low Country, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A