book cover of The House of Doors
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The House of Doors

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORKER, NPR, SLATE, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, AND A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE WORK
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE

From the bestselling author of The Garden of Evening Mists, a spellbinding novel about love and betrayal, colonialism and revolution, storytelling and redemption.

The year is 1921. Lesley Hamlyn and her husband, Robert, a lawyer and war veteran, are living at Cassowary House on the Straits Settlement of Penang. When “Willie” Somerset Maugham, a famed writer and old friend of Robert's, arrives for an extended visit with his secretary Gerald, the pair threatens a rift that could alter more lives than one.

Maugham, one of the great novelists of his day, is beleaguered: Having long hidden his homosexuality, his unhappy and expensive marriage of convenience becomes unbearable after he loses his savings-and the freedom to travel with Gerald. His career deflating, his health failing, Maugham arrives at Cassowary House in desperate need of a subject for his next book. Lesley, too, is enduring a marriage more duplicitous than it first appears. Maugham suspects an affair, and, learning of Lesley's past connection to the Chinese revolutionary, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, decides to probe deeper. But as their friendship grows and Lesley confides in him about life in the Straits, Maugham discovers a far more surprising tale than he imagined, one that involves not only war and scandal but the trial of an Englishwoman charged with murder. It is, to Maugham, a story worthy of fiction.

A mesmerizingly beautiful novel based on real events,
The House of Doors traces the fault lines of race, gender, sexuality, and power under empire, and dives deep into the complicated nature of love and friendship in its shadow.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"An amazingly transporting novel about love, desire and duty. The House of Doors does what the very best stories do - it draws us intomany fascinating worlds at once: the British Empire's incursions into South-East Asia; the secret life of one of England's finest writers; a forgotten murder trial playing out in the Kuala Lumpur courts a century ago. Weaving all this together with great skill and power, bringing the reader a surfeit of pleasure, Tan Twan Eng also teaches us a crucial lesson: never trust a writer." - Jonathan Lee

"The House of Doors is brilliantly observed and full of memorable characters. It is so well written, everything so effortlessly dramatized, the narrative so well structured and paced, that this is a book that will mesmerize readers far into the future." - Colm Tóibín


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