Trigger Warnings: mental health/hoarding; divorce
Source: NetGalley ARC
Challenges: Popsugar Reading Challenge (A book that has fewer than 1000 reviews on Goodreads)
**I received this e-book advance reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have been feeling a bit slumpish lately with my reading, and this was the perfect light read to help me pull out of it. It helps that I was very much in a British mood after watching Bridgerton again!
A House Full of Windsor by Kristin Contino follows a family of characters but is told from the alternating perspectives of Mother, Debbie Windsor (no relation to “those” Windsors), and daughter, Sarah Percy. Although the family lives in American, Debbie met her ex-husband in Britain and her kids grew up there.
Sarah is a “household advice” guru, known for her “Sarah Says” television segment and social media posts, for example, “Sarah Says, Tackle Stains the Right Way” where she instructs viewers on how to create their own cleaning spray. Sarah is a somewhat uptight, younger Martha Stewart-like character that has even reinvented her accent to be more “proper”.
Debbie, on the other hand, is a hoarder who is obsessed with the royal family. What is very unique, is that Debbie is not the kind of hoarder you would think of when you hear that term. Her collection is all royal themed, and categorized and organized in bins. Debbie is obsessed with keeping her items intact but has so little space in her house that she has to sleep on the sofa and can barely navigate her way to the front door.
The story revolves around Sarah’s brother getting a job on a television show, Stuff, about compulsive hoarding. He has Debbie accepted on to the show but promises Sarah’s participation. Ultimately, Sarah and Debbie agree and hijinks ensue. Add to this, a romantic storyline for both Debbie and Sarah, as well as glimpses into Sarah’s quirky, prosperous Father’s family in Britain, and this is an entertaining and interesting romp.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was that it is told in alternating timelines. The story flashes back in time at various points to Debbie’s life, starting in the 1980s when she is a student in the UK. What is really clever, is that the flashback will be triggered by Debbie’s memories of a specific object in her collection of Royal memorabilia and the historical storyline will show you how she came to collect it. It also shows how Debbie came to relate so strongly to the royal family.
I felt that the story was a bit slow to start, and as a result, I had trouble getting into it. I’m really glad I stuck with it though because it eventually picksup. I wish we could have learned more about some of the side-characters like Debbie’s ex-husband’s family (and her children’s Dad). The glimpses into Debbie’s and her children’s lives in Britain left me wanting more, while I was not as interested in the storyline following Sarah’s Television career in the modern storyline.
Overall, I would recommend this for anyone who loves gossip magazines, royal spotting, reality television and storylines where objects take on a life of their own, to the extent that the objects are almost characters.
Quote to leave you with: “Since I moved back to America, I’ve had the kids, my lovely things, and they all filled my house. Then the kids grew up and left, and all I’ve got here is…stuff. And memories. And when they’re gone, what will I do?“