This was an interesting one. I got this book for Christmas from my mother. Since I’d never heard of it, I asked her what inspired the choice. She insisted it had been on my Amazon wishlist. We checked, but it had not. How unusual. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it a go.
The House Without Windows is a strange book. It tells the story of Eepersip, a young girl who runs away from her mother and father to live in the forest and make friends with the animals. So far, so fairytale, right?
It’s particularly odd, though, because it was written by a young girl. Apparently a young girl with one hell of a talent for daydreaming. As such, it reads very strangely. Her father helped her with spelling and grammar but didn’t touch any of the content. As a result, the text is readable but the story is very naive, as of course, you would expect of a story written by a child.
This should all be fine. I should have just read it as an interesting insight into a child’s imagination. Something that could only possibly have been produced before a kid became sufficiently self-conscious and self-critical to reject all notions of writing anything like this. It’s absolutely true that if you’re interested in how the imagination of children develops, then this is probably a must-read.
So I should clarify that this is my failing, but I couldn’t enjoy the book. The naivety annoyed me. I kept reading passages and thinking things like “Oh for God’s sake, shut up Eepersip. No, you can’t make a dress out of flowers, it’d be structurally unsound.” Eepersip needs to face the real world.
Yeah, I guess I’m a killjoy. Sorry. What did strike me as a shame, though, was the story at the end of the book. In it, Barbara Newhall Follett’s father describes how his daughter became unhappy as she got older and eventually went missing. I would have liked to have heard her take on the book, or to have read new texts she wrote as an adult. That these texts were never written strikes me as a sad waste.
Edit: Apparently more texts were written! See comment below and farksolia.org for more info. Thanks to Stefan Cooke for sharing.