Man of the House
Continuing the story of Lincoln Menner in this sequel to HOUSEHUSBAND, we find Linc and his family newly settled in Naples, Florida, where they live in the rubble of house renovation. Linc has always been the home and child caretaker while his wife Jo, a hospital executive, provides financially. Linc takes enormous pride in his fabulous meals, meticulous house cleaning, inspired home decorating and --- most of all --- his loving care of daughter Violet.
Now, though, his house and kitchen are torn up; cleaning is futile and cooking impossible. (Anyone who has lived through the trauma of house renovation will laugh out loud in sympathetic recognition of the Menners' reconstruction trials and tribulations.) Violet is now 13 and taking the usual steps toward independence and adulthood, which means she no longer needs her dad in quite the same way.
Linc begins to compare himself to his contractor, Rod, starting with a conversation in which Linc describes gravy-making at length to the macho builder. He is taken aback at how silent Rod grows and how quickly he makes his escape. Linc can't help but question his own masculinity. Does he --- someone who is rather soft-bodied, not used to power tools or guns, and tuned in to interior decorating --- measure up to a man's man like Rod?
Linc's life is suddenly as off-kilter and unpredictable as the frequent hurricanes that threaten his Florida home. In an attempt to control at least some small part of his environment, Linc becomes compulsive about checking The Weather Station, learning all he can about hurricanes and preparing for an eventual storm disaster. Meanwhile, readers are privy to three other characters' outlook on Linc. Jo is unnerved by the drastic and out-of-character changes her husband makes, from taking up weight-lifting to buying a gun. What, she wonders, does this mean for their marriage? Violet documents her complicated emotions, describing her anxiety as her father's attentions recede from her, even as she acknowledges her own need for more autonomy. A more peripheral character adds a bit of suspense to Linc's story while developing an unhealthy interest in him.
As Linc evolves and the Menners' home life changes, readers may be concerned that the most appealing aspects of Linc's personality are vanishing. However, author Ad Hudler handles the changes with a sure hand, giving us a satisfying conclusion (as well as the hope of a sequel --- soon!).
Readers will miss out if they skip over the delightful "A Conversation with Ad Hudler" section at the end of the book, in which his teenage daughter Haley interviews him, confirming our suspicions that the immensely likable Lincoln Menner is based solidly on the author. To be frank: I approached MAN OF THE HOUSE cynically, expecting to be underwhelmed. Little did I know I would fall in love with the characters and the plot, devouring it in a couple of sittings. I definitely plan to seek out Hudler's previous books, HOUSEHUSBAND, SOUTHERN LIVING and ALL THIS BELONGS TO ME. I expect they will prove to be as much of a pure pleasure to read as the warm-hearted, hilarious and endearing MAN OF THE HOUSE.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 6, 2011
Man of the House
- Publication Date: September 30, 2008
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books
- ISBN-10: 0345481089
- ISBN-13: 9780345481085