“The house on Seventh Street” by Karen Vorbeck Williams

House on Seventh StreetThe house on Seventh Street“, Karen Vorbeck Williams’ second novel, is set in the town of her birth, Grand Junction, Colorado.

The story, part old-fashioned mystery, part women’s fiction, is that of a sixty-one year old woman who returns to the town of her birth to settle her father’s estate.  Recently divorced after thirty-five years of marriage, she feels unsettled and sad.

A freelance photographer, Winna also has mixed feelings about her homecoming.  She delights in seeing her daughter Emily, her baby granddaughter, Isabel, and her estranged sister Chloe.  She dreads returning to the House on Seventh Street because of the not always happy memories the place evokes.  She lives with guilt as she is the sole heiress to the estate.  Henry Grumman, was not what you would term a ‘loving’ father and he had inexplicably disinherited her sister Chloe.   Even in death he seems to be making her life difficult – though, to be fair, he has left her quite a valuable estate.  The house was once her grandmother’s.  Henry’s time inhabiting the house has not left much of a mark – the place is just as it was when her grandmother Juliana lived there.

While cleaning the house in preparation for putting it on the market, she comes across some very valuable jewelry and some old letters written between her grandmother and her grandmother’s first love who died at a tragically young age.  Her grandparents marriage was not a happy one – Juliana made no secret that Edwin was her second choice for a husband.  In Winna’s opinion her grandmother Juliana was an elegant lady with ‘rabid Republican and early feminist leanings”.   Flashbacks in the narrative prove that Juliana was self-centered, materialistic,  and had a nasty streak…

After spending some time at the house, Winna realizes that not is all as it should be.  There is a strange re-creation of Winna’s childhood bedroom in the attic.  There are break-ins and even several attempts on Winna’s life!  Suspects are threefold.  There is Johnny, Winna’s own first love who is back in her life ; Todd, her sister Chloe’s new husband ; and finally Seth, the handyman Winna hired to help her with the house.  Winna begins to investigate the history of the house and of her grandmother in the hope that current events will be explained…

Karen Vorbeck Williams is a photographer in real-life and her prose in this novel illustrates her love of photography, and her deep affection for her home town.  Many parts of the novel made me smile with recognition as the protagonist, Winna, is near my own age and has similar thoughts to my own about how the world has changed during her time in it.

The House on Seventh Street” is by the author’s own admission inspired by the Nancy Drew mysteries.  She is right on the mark – as it does indeed read like a Nancy Drew novel.  I was an ardent follower of Nancy as an adolescent so I’m very familiar with the style.  However… now I’m an adult, the style seems overly tame with pacing that seems to just plod along.   That being said, the characterization was strong and the descriptions were well rendered.  I would recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys an old-fashioned mystery – someone whose expectations are not set overly high…

Thanks to Booktrope Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

linefancyKAREN VORBECK WILLIAMS is author of My Enemy’s Tears: The Witch of Karen Vorbeck WilliamsNorthampton, a historical novel based on the life of her eleventh great–grandmother, who was accused of witchcraft in 1675. She is a prize-winning photographer and Master Gardener living in Rumford, Rhode Island.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “The house on Seventh Street” by Karen Vorbeck Williams

  1. dino0726 says:

    Hi – I like that the author was inspired to write this by the Nancy Drew mysteries. Good review! 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews


  2. aimee says:

    Great review!!!


  3. skyecaitlin says:

    I too was an ardent fan of Nancy Drew: an addict, if you really want to know, and this book sounds great. I am impressed with the review.


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