Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continously Live-In House

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continously Live-In House

Article excerpt

Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Contlnously Live-In House, by Sarah Messer. Viking, June 2004. $23.95

When Sarah Messer was a child, the will of Walter Hatch hung on the wall of her living room, silently decreeing that her home, the home Hatch built in Marshfield, Massachusetts, in 1647-the titular Red House-would be handed down "forever from generation to generation to the world's end never to be sold or mortgaged from rny children and grandchildren forever." So what was the Messer family doing here? It's a question that the author's family reckons with in this debut book of nonfiction. The house comes into her family after her father drives up to the house in his rattling VW bus in 1965 and declares, "This is where I want to live." To everyone's surprise, Richard Warren Hatch (the eighth generation heir and failed novelist who decided to sell) begins returning family heirlooms because he believes that Red House is "invisibly inhabited by jealous ghosts, and it is absolutely essential for any dweller therein to get them on his side. …

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