Caroline Hulse’s latest book, Like A House on Fire, is an incisive, incredibly funny study of how families behave in crisis.

Told from multiple perspectives, the book revolves around a family party, a wedding anniversary with a murder–mystery theme, where pretty much every person has a secret which he or she is guarding, whether to protect themselves or others from the uncomfortable truths. This leads to seemingly normal people behaving badly or absurdly under pressure, with some quite hilarious results.

A smart, sometimes wince-worthy novel, Like A House on Fire will ring too many bells with too many of its readers, who will have found themselves in similar situations or behaving in similar ways. This is Hulse’s genius. Her ability to focus in on the minutiae of our lives, turning those challenging moments into something entertaining, something comedic, with a bittersweetness that simply makes our hearts ache.

A stellar read. Highly recommended.


Caroline Hulse | Like a House on Fire | Orion | hardback | 14 May 2020 | £14.99

Available in other editions – ebook and audio

Please support independent bookshops and libraries



Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the virtual book tour. Many thanks to Alex Layt, senior press officer at Orion, for inviting us on the tour and to NetGalley supplying a digital proof. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour.

See also: Charlie Mackesy and the importance of touch‘; ‘Damian Barr’s slice of South Africa’;Prospect beautiful, Derek Jarman’s cottage‘; ‘Chris Whitaker’s small-town America’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Sanctuary: an Old Familiar’; Carver’s Nothing Important Happened Today’; By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

This review is © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Any images are used for promotional purposes only. If we have unintentionally breached your copyright, please contact us and we will take the image down immediately. Thank you so much.

Tags : , , , , , ,