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Publisher's Summary

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. 

And it's that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope - the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman - through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.  

Machado's dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.

©2019 Carmen Maria Machado (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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What listeners say about In the Dream House

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Devastatingly Beautiful

I am not really sure where to start with this one. First I’ll say that memoirs are not a favorite genre of mine, but the subject matter of this made me overlook that. You see, I too was involved with an emotionally and psychologically abusive female partner for close to three decades. I finally got the courage to end it three years ago, but I continue to work through the after effects. I never once told anyone what was going on in my home, and now the shame I feel at having put up with such dysfunction for so long can be overwhelming. On top of that, I must explain to everyone why I ended it, because to the rest of the world, my partner was perfect. I know some of them doubt my recounting of what happened, because, “You know, we never saw any bruises so really, was it all that bad?” In retrospect, I desperately wish I had told someone, somewhere along the way, as it would have made this part easier. Consequently, I have felt very alone in this and I desperately wanted to find someone who understood what I was going through. Thank you, Carmen Maria Machado. You did that for me. You made me feel that I’m not alone. I love the way she tells this story, in bits and pieces, because that’s how you feel when you’re in a relationship like this. You cannot tell a story like this linearly. Logically, you know that everything happened linearly, but in your mind everything gets jumbled together. Some days—or hours—were idyllic. Others were horrifying. When did the idyllic day end and the horrifying day start? When you look back, you remember all these disjointed scenes and struggle to put them all together into a cohesive whole that you can understand and process. Yes, there was no other way to tell this story but in short vignettes, and the end result is devastatingly beautiful and heartbreakingly real. Ms. Machado is sensitive, intelligent, articulate, poetic, and unflinchingly honest. This book is gorgeous and it was a lifesaver to me. I recommend this without the tiniest hesitation.

42 people found this helpful

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interesting style of writing, terrible narration

I really struggled with this author's narration. it was so breathy and over dramatic and even though her story might have been authentic, her narration took away from it. I failed to understand why she just didn't sound herself like normal story telling. I wouldn't recommend it.

14 people found this helpful

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painfully gorgeous

I love how lyrical this book is, and I love when authors themselves read a work, especially a memoir or bio.

10 people found this helpful

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Narration distracts from an interesting story

Interesting story but unfortunately the narrator's over-dramatic and self-important cadence gave it the feel of being in the audience of a poetry slam.

20 people found this helpful

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Something's missing

As other reviewers have mentioned, the author's dramatic, breathless but flat reading quickly grows tiresome. From the description given, the author's partner is clearly suffering from untreated mental illness, and it seems unfair to portray her as a monstrous abuser. There may be a lot untold here. Mostly we hear that the author cries a lot, her friends are worried about her, "The Woman in the Dream House" imagines a lot of crazy stuff. If there is anything harrowing in this story, I'm missing it. It just started to feel like revenge porn more than anything else, and I was uncomfortable with the author's whole tale. And I do not ever condone abusive behavior, being a survivor of child abuse myself. There's just too much missing here. Look away.

9 people found this helpful

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horrible

terrible, boring, awful narration . I couldn't even finish it. no idea what the story was even about.

7 people found this helpful

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Unrelenting

As a straight woman, I feel terribly guilty for not liking this book at all, but my issues with this book have little or nothing to do with lesbian anything, only how it was written and narrated, which was awful on both accounts. Sorry.
The author's narration, a combination of sing-song, depression and creepy breathiness, made listening at times excruciating. The writing was overly flowery with tiresome synopses of tv shows, movies and an opera. The continual use of quotes from books made me cringe. And the use of you as in: you go to the store and you pay for the groceries and you carry them to the car, made me cringe even more.
I understand how abuse doesn't have to have physical violence, and that emotional abuse can be very powerful, but I still fail to understand why lesbian abuse is different from heterosexual abuse, especially when the author states that they, the gay community, just want to be like everyone else. Not exactly a great aspiration, if you ask me. Nor do I understand why her abuser's awful controlling nature and serious asshole-ness merits this memoir.
I'm glad the author is okay now and in a good relationship, and I'm glad that it helped some other people, but I really had a hard time listening to her book.

4 people found this helpful

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poetry

this book is written beautifully. it is like a poem, however it felt very repetitive. the narrator's inflection was like she was reading a poem, I really thought it annoying but got used to it. the story itself was sad.. about an abusive relationship but it felt a little shallow & repetitive to me. i guess it is to simply bring to the forefront that queer relationships can be abusive too.

3 people found this helpful

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Emotional, honest, and captivating.

This tragically beautiful story has impacted me in so many ways, but to hear Carmen read her own painful words was an experience in itself.

3 people found this helpful

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Not an Easy Read

I was assigned this book for an Intro to Fiction class, the premise is interesting, a recounting of a relationship from its lustful beginning to its disastrous end. However the execution is not as straight forward. It is written as a series of memories and emotions being recalled and described by the author. Frankly I found it confusing. It's not necessarily a bad book, more so you have to be in the right kind of mind set to be able to adequately enjoy it. That and for me, personally, books that I'm made to read I usually find reasons not to enjoy.

3 people found this helpful