The Cream Brick House: Elodea's Dream
by Christine Ellen

"Elodea dejectedly, wearily made her way down the steps to her car. She was devastated! Her hard-earned savings were gone!"

Australia has its share of sweeping family sagas. Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds is a popular example. The land down under is also renowned for indefatigable heroines. Laura from Henry Handel Richardson’s The Getting of Wisdom is a case in point. Those novels come to mind when reading Christine Ellen’s far-reaching tale of one woman’s quest to achieve her own personal dream.

The narrative begins shortly after World War I with the story of twin sisters. One is ebullient and outgoing. The other has a more intemperate disposition. It is the latter’s progeny, particularly her daughter, Elodea, who will become the protagonist in this family history that will stretch from the 1920’s through the 21st century.

As a child, Elodea is afflicted with a form of rheumatic fever that literally incapacitates her for prolonged periods of time, but she perseveres—a trait that will become a trademark of her life’s journey. After becoming a young woman, she falls in love with Drew—a thoroughly charming scoundrel who convinces her to become his bride. It is a decision that will result in the start of her own family, as well as the beginning of a dream—a dream of a cream brick house that she believes will shelter her from want.

The author is a copious chronicler of the innumerable sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more that comprise the book’s family tree of characters. Ellen’s dialogue is sparse, yet often quite effective. Her prose tends to be loaded with description. Readers who relish this particular writing style will be in literary heaven and will likely enjoy the long, detailed history of family interactions that make up the bulk of this story.

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