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Set This House In Order: A Romance Of Souls [Hardcover]

Matt Ruff
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 23 2003

"I suppose I should tell you about the house.... The house, along with the lake, the forest, and Coventry, are all in Andy Gage's head, or what would have been Andy Gage's head if he had lived. Andy Gage was horn in 1965 and murdered not long after by his stepfather ... It was no ordinary murder.. though the torture and abuse that killed him were real, Andy Gage's death wasn't. Only his soul actually died, and when it died, it broke in pieces. Then the pieces became souls in their own right, coinheritors of Andy Gage's life. . . . "

From the author of the cult classic Fool on the Hill comes a strange and moving story of self-discovery. Andy Gage was "born" just two years ago, called into being to serve as the public face of a multiple personality. While Andy deals with the outside world, more than a hundred other souls share an imaginary house inside Andy's head, struggling to maintain an orderly co-existence: Aaron, the father figure, who makes the rules; Adam, the mischievous teenager, who breaks them; Jake, the frightened little boy; Aunt Sam, the artist; Seferis, the defender; and Gideon, the dark soul, who wants to get rid of Andy and the others and run things on his own.

Andrew's new coworker, Penny Driver, is also a multiple personality -- a fact that Penny is only partially aware of. When several of Penny's other souls ask Andy for help, Andy reluctantly agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that threatens to destroy the stability of the house. Now Andy and Penny must work together to uncover a terrible secret that Andy has been keeping from himself....


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Product Description

From Booklist

Ruff tells a surprisingly dense story that boils down to a journey of self-discovery. Andy Gage, created two years ago, is the public face of a multiple personality. There are hundreds of souls in his head, governed by his father as Andy lives in a house on a lakeshore. In the world outside, Andy works on ambitious, but unlikely, virtual reality projects. There, new programmer Penny Driver turns out to be a multiple personality, too, and the boss wants Andy to help her. Several of Penny's other souls ask for help, which Andy finally, reluctantly, agrees to give, thereby setting himself on a path that threatens the stability of his house. It seems Andy isn't as cured as he thought he was. There are still secrets in his hometown and in his mind, secrets that could destroy him. Because of the high quality of characterization in it and the unusual route the many souls of Andy Gage must take on his journey of self-discovery, this is an engaging piece of work. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“...his matter-of-fact depiction of the relationships between different personalities is remarkable for its imaginative details.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Set This House in Order brings extraordinary warmth to the chilliest of childhoods.” (O magazine)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled, it's not perfect. June 27 2004
Format:Paperback
Matt Ruff's book Fool on the Hill has gotten lots of indie acclaim, so much so that I was reluctant to read it at first. Needless to say I wouldn't be reviewing this book if the other hadn't made a very good impression on me. It was a wonderful book.
This is not that book. This book started off very good. As a matter of a fact, the review you may have read from the person that was halfway through was very close to what I would have written at that point.
But then the book had to end. And I just felt that the ending was much much weaker than the book was angling toward.
It's still a good read, but it's not anywhere near the brilliance of Fool on the Hill.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this novel! June 22 2004
Format:Paperback
"Set This House in Order" is truly one of the best-crafted novels I have read- a deftly, cleverly written story with captivating characters. It has an intriguing premise that is carried through to its full potential: Andrew Gage, a narrator and the main protagonist, is one personality belonging to a person with multiple personality disorder. Andrew has been chosen to be the responsible, regulating public persona for his body. Through Andrew, the different personalities inhabiting the body have input, but order is maintained, transforming what is usually considered a psychological disorder into a somewhat bizarre but rich and interesting way of life. When Andrew realizes that his co-worker Penny suffers from multiple personality disorder, he attempts to help her come to grips with her situation and find a better way of handling the many souls vying for dominance in her life. Amazingly, even though there are many characters residing in two bodies, each personality is so distinctive that the story is clear and free of confusion. The plot has a great mix of romance, adventure, and mystery, but it's the characters that make this a truly magnificent novel. The empathy of Ruff's writing imbues each personality with a unique and human soul. Though the idea of multiple personalities might sound difficult or disturbing, the story itself is full of gentleness and compassion. Like "Middlesex" or "The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime," "Set This House is Order" is an amazingly well-written and empathetic novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ruff has done it again! May 27 2004
Format:Paperback
After his first two books - quirky and sharply written, deftly straddling the imaginary fence between fantasy and literary - Ruff made an interesting decision in choosing his subject matter for his third novel. Instead of taking the "easy" route and returning to a fantasy setting, he steps into the real world, choosing a difficult premise, and delivers his best story yet.
While his first two books showed off his ability to handle large casts of distinctive characters and their overlapping stories, he flips the script here by focusing on two characters, both of whom house large and distinctive casts IN THEIR HEADS.
Describing the plot doesn't do the book justice as, like any worthwhile journey, half the pleasure is in getting there, and this book is a rare pleasure, indeed. In the end, Andy Gage and Penny Driver will be two people whose lives stick with you long after you reluctantly put the book down.
Matt Ruff has done it again!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, disappointing if you've read his others April 28 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is better than 99% of the books you could read. And for a mainstream novel, it's very well written.
But compared to his first two novels, which had strong elements of the fantastic, this is a disappointment. Sure, it's unusual to have main characters with MPD. And I feel that many of the major souls were more interesting than some of the minor characters who were "whole" people.
But "Fool on the Hill" and "Sewer, Gas and Electric" are novels which I will never be able to forget, even if I wanted to try. Besides being stunningly original and inventive in style and content, they have characters that are unforgettable. As I read them, I kept hoping that the novel would never end, that's how enjoyable they were.
And while "House" has well-written characters, I'm not sure I'll remember them for a long time. And it lacks the originality and inventiveness of "Fool" and "Sewer".
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3.0 out of 5 stars to help with this Nov. 23 2003
Format:Hardcover
the basis of this book is all to familiar. Check out "When Rabbit Howls" a true life acount of a woman with several personalities if not several dozens. After reading "When Rabbit Howls" I read "Set This House in Order" and enjoyed it a lot more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unique isn't the word for this book Oct. 26 2003
Format:Hardcover
I've read hundreds of books over the years, but I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this before: a novel whose main character is the dominant soul (to use Matt Ruff's own terminology) of a person with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).
That soul is Andrew Gage - who, in the chronology of Ruff's novel, was "born" just two years ago. Andrew was created by the former dominant soul, Aaron, to take over that role because he (Aaron) was exhausted from dealing with all the other souls in the body and from building the "house" that they all (but one) now reside in. It would take more space than is available in this review to explain about the "house", but Ruff explains this rather interesting concept extremely well.
The story deals with Andrew's getting his "house" in order, so to speak; his interaction with a fellow, "immature" victim of MPD, Penny Driver; and his discovery of several things in his body's past that could potentially cause Andrew to lose his place as the dominant personality.
I was extremely impressed with Ruff's ability to establish each soul with its own distinct personality. He must have done quite a lot of research on the subject to be able to do this. And to do it with two people (Andrew & Penny) is nothing short of amazing.
Penny and her souls are somewhat weaker characters than Andrew and his, but considering Penny's state when Andrew first encounters her that's hardly surprising. Julie Sivik, the woman who brings Andrew and Penny together, seems to me to be a bit of a caricature - she definitely has her own psychological hangups (as does everyone in this book, to one degree or another) - but she is definitely essential to the story, as you'll see.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Matt Ruff's Best Novel To Date
"Set This House In Order" is Matt Ruff's finest work of fiction to date, brilliantly adding to a splendid body of work that includes such classics as his literary debut... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2003 by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll keep this short and sweet
This was the best, most original book I've read all year. No one has ever written a book like this, and I was completely engrossed.
Published on Sept. 19 2003 by monique madigan
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable !
Knowing (and admiring) Matt from his last two books, I was very much looking forward to read more "simply crazily entertaining stuff". Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2003 by Thomas Ehmer
3.0 out of 5 stars A little dissapointing at the end
I was introduced to Matt Ruff by a friend who insisted that everyone he knew read Fool On A Hill. I did, and discovered that I had read another book from the same man, called... Read more
Published on May 23 2003 by William D. Colburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What a great find....
This is the first Matt Ruff book I have ever read. You can see from the five stars that I loved this book. It has a very complex and smart plot. Read more
Published on May 23 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's who in someone's head
This isn't like talking to yourself. Or arguing with yourself. This is like reading a movie script, with a cast of dozens played by two people. Read more
Published on April 22 2003 by damuddymeg
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for the first two thirds.
This is a real tour-de-force novel that manages some remarkable feats without being pretentious or overly showy. Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader
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