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Mary Kay Andrews

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House Porn: Iconic Fictional Homes In Literature

Posted: 06/13/11 08:42 AM ET

I'm house obsessed, a house voyeur. Always have been. As soon as I started reading I found myself drawn to fictional character's homes as much as I was to the characters themselves. In "The Fixer Upper," the title character in the book is a mouldering Victorian mansion called Birdsong. For my newest novel, "Summer Rental," I created a rambling, weather-beaten beach house called Ebbtide, on the shores of The Outer Banks, where three life-long friends gather for a month-long reunion. Old houses seem to harbor secrets that speak of past lives and troubles and joys. The accumulated patina of time is an irresistible lure for me--as both a writer and a reader.

Fires, floods, familial feuds, divorce and dispossession, these are the conflicts contained within the walls of these ten memorable houses--both fictional and not.

Oh, how I longed to live in a railway car just like "The Boxcar Children's."

I wanted a garret hideaway to write in like Jo March in "Little Women."

After devouring the Gothic novels of Victoria Holt, I dreamt of moving into a mist-shrouded manor house to become "The Mistress Of Mellyn."

On my first trip to New York in the 1980s, the first place I wanted to visit was the Plaza Hotel, home to Kay Thompson's Eloise. Years later, I named the protagonist of my novel "Savannah Blues" Eloise, called Weezie, as an homage to Thompson's tiny tyrant.

"Colony" by Anne Rivers Siddons
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Presiding matriarch of the clan of Southern lady-lit writers, Siddons does house-porn like nobody else. Here, Retreat, the Maine summer-house of protagonist Maude Gascoigne Chambliss's blue-blooded family-by-marriage provides the setting for seventy years of domestic disquiet.
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