Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Irresistible Henry House

by Lisa Grunwald

At the Wilton School of Home Economics, young women are taught the basic skills of housekeeping and motherhood under the strict supervision of Martha Gaines, who herself has been neither a wife nor a mother, but is expert on both subjects. Every two years the school receives a baby from a nearby orphanage so the young ladies in the program can practice their skills. Henry is practice baby number 10, and Martha is immediately smitten with him! In fact, she loves him so much that Martha adopts him herself, for fear of losing him to a permanent home. And so begins the story of The Irresistible Henry House, who is loved by many mothers and adored by one.

We follow Henry through the '60's and '70's on his journey to find himself. He bounces among adoring women most of his life, but he can't ever seem to find that love for himself. Ironically, although he knows exactly how to make himself irresistible to women, in reality he truly isn't a charming person.

The one thing Henry does love is art, but even that suffers due to his lack of sentiment, so even though he loves to draw, he seems only to be able to copy the work of others. In fact he becomes so good at copying that he gets a job working with Walt Disney studios as a "betweener." An artist who fills in the cells for the movement of animated characters in films.

I enjoyed this story. It's an interesting perspective on these actual practice houses and the baby-boomer years, which may be part of the reason I liked it.

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