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Literature / Our Mother's House

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Our Mother's House is a 1963 novel by Julian Gloag. It tells the story about what happens when the young Hook children have to keep living when their mother passes away in her bed.

The story follows along some interesting routine bits of the genre while not being afraid to mix up some of those rules along the way.

In 1967 it was turned into a movie directed by Jack Clayton. For tropes on the movie see Our Mother's House.

The book provides examples of:

  • A House Divided: The Hook house becomes divided more than once, First with Elsa and Hubert against Diana and Dunstan, and then later Elsa vs Charlie.
  • Anyone Can Die: While the premise kicks off with Mother's death, other deaths occur that the reader may not see coming.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Violet Hook raised the children this way including singing of religious songs at the piano.
  • Berserk Button: Hubert snaps upon hearing the truth and Charlie 'ook berate their mother and kills him with the fireplace poker.
  • Big Fancy House: The Hook Home isn't the biggest house but it is noted it happens to be a big house by the neighborhood normal standards.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Mrs. hook raises seven children and there are lots of issues among them.
  • Break the Cutie: Gertie starts off such a sweet child, and then she suffers for being abused and dies in bed.
  • Chekhov's Skill: It is established Jiminee can forge his mother's signature, as it's how the children cash the checks. Charlie later uses him to forge the signature to let him sell the house out from under the children.
  • Daddy's Girl: Diana tries to be this to her new found father.
  • Dark Secret: What is hinted at throughout the book comes about in the revelation of how the children's father hasn't been around. All seven Hook children are all illegitimate children from Violet's various affairs and hooking. None of them are Charlie's blood.
  • Disposing of a Body: After Mother Dies, the five elder children take turns digging a hole to bury her in the garden. When Gertie dies, they do the same for her. And lastly they were doing the same for Charlie when they are finally caught.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gertie is abused (sexually touched) by a local mechanic and takes a ride with him on his motorcycle. "Mother" orders she be punished by having her hair cut, not talked to, having her most prized possession taken away, limiting how much she can eat/drink....... and she later dies from it. All because she got abused and supposedly liked it.
  • Don't Split Us Up: The children avoid telling anyone of Mother's death fearing they will be split up by the system.
    • And possibly their ending this trope actually happens.
  • Face–Heel Turn: At first Charlie seems like a good guy but then his true side of wasting money, hooking up with any girl and gambling comes out.
  • Hypocrite: To an extent of a life change. As Violet Edna Hook grows older she converts to being highly religious and indoctrinates her children in it, even though the only reason all seven children were born was she spent most of her life being far from religious.
  • Insufferable Genius: Dunstan comes off like this.
  • Left Hanging: The book ends with the Hook Children being discovered trying to bury Charlie's body and they have to prepare to go off to the orphanage they ask to go say goodbye to their friend Louis. The ending sentences has them standing on the porch looking at their teacher coming out of the house with their luggage. Leaving it unknown if they will go with her or try to runaway.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The children have "Mother Time" a seance to contact Mother's spirit. It is through Diana she speaks, at first it is left ambiguous whether this is real or not. But after the seance where Louis is allowed to stay, Diana confesses to Hubert that she did Mother's voice this time, but proclaimed the previous times Mother had really come to speak through her.
  • Only Sane Man: Hubert and Dunstan both think of themselves this way. Dunstan in at first being the one to stand up for Mother's rules when he thinks the others aren't. And Hubert when he contacts Charlie thinking it'll be for the better.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: "Mother's Spirit" speaks through Diana at Mother Time. At least at first,the chair does move by itself at one point.
  • Parental Abandonment: While not as an on purpose example but Mother dying is what kicks off the plot.
  • Pet the Dog: Charlie is given some moments where it looks like he may be kind.
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: Charlie Hook insists everyone pronounce his name Charlie 'ook. It is played to a meta level that from that point on, even the narrator spells his name "Charlie 'ook" for the rest of the story.
  • Sex Is Evil: Mother's rule.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: And how Mother gave birth to seven children.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: The children alter the small shed in the garden into "the tabernacle" where they move several things from Mother's room down there to where her body is buried. This is where they hold Mother Time.
  • Teenage Wasteland: While not all of the children are in their teens this trope applies.
  • Traumatic Haircut: After Gertie is revealed to be a harlot, Mother's "spirit" orders she be given one.