I love Merit and Jane’s love, and I devoured this novel in a single afternoon because I was completely invested in their relationship and could not stop reading until I knew they had the happy ending they deserve. Like a House on Fire follows Merit, a young architect who is unhappily married to a man she has been with since college, has two young children, and is feeling many mixed feelings about soon turning 40 and deciding to go back to work. She begins to feel like a stranger in her own life and loses touch with her identity. Upon going back to work at an architectural firm, Merit quickly befriends her new boss, Jane, a brilliant and beautiful married woman 20 years older than Merit who appears to go through life with an ease that Merit is drawn to immediately. They have a beautiful friendship that blossoms into a deep love and admiration for each other that Merit never believed could exist. Jane changes everything for Merit — most importantly, her view on love and desire. Their story is real and heartwarming, and I was rooting for their happiness the whole way through. Love is love and it always wins!
(Note on subject matter: includes miscarriage and infidelity)
—Abigail Lindemann, Snail Readers Circle
A JULY 2022 BELLETRIST BOOK CLUB PICK
What would you do if you found the spark that made you feel whole again?
After twelve years of marriage and two kids, Merit has begun to feel like a stranger in her own life. She loves her husband and sons, but she desperately needs something more than sippy cups and monthly sex. So, she returns to her career at Jager + Brandt, where a brilliant and beautiful Danish architect named Jane decides to overlook the “break” in Merit’s résumé and give her a shot.
Jane is a supernova—witty and dazzling and unapologetically herself—and as the two work closely together, their relationship becomes a true friendship. In Jane, Merit sees the possibility of what a woman could be. And Jane sees Merit exactly for who she is. Not the wife and mother dutifully performing the roles expected of her, but a whole person.
Their relationship quickly becomes a cornerstone in Merit’s life. And as Merit starts to open her mind to the idea of more—more of a partner, more of a match, more out of love—she begins to question: What if the love of her life isn’t the man she married. What if it’s Jane?
About the Author
Lauren McBrayer is a graduate of Yale with a law degree from UC Berkeley. A working mom of three, she is the head of business affairs for an entertainment company in Los Angeles. Like a House on Fire is her adult debut.
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“This raw, emotional debut novel explores the disquiet of middle age, the nature of female friendships and the joy and burden of living authentically.” –The Washington Post
“Jane injects [Merit’s life] with a jolt of electricity that’s more than a work friendship, it’s a chance to imagine a different kind of life. This story of female relationships will spark your own imagination, too.” –Good Housekeeping
"This debut, in which a wife and mother falls in love with her boss, explores intimacy, queerness and what it means to dismantle your life." –The Hollywood Reporter
“If it’s not already on your reading list, by all means, add lesbian writer Lauren McBrayer’s debut novel Like a House on Fire….McBrayer deftly handles the subject matter and readers are sure to find themselves rooting for the main characters as they embark on their potentially treacherous journey.” –Grab Magazine
“The lovely sons, the irritating yet beloved husband, her career, Jane...Witty, empathetic, kind, McBrayer conjures up an unexpected solution.” –Lavender Magazine
"So much to explore, think about, and relish in this book!" –BookBub
“With a zippy pace, punchy dialogue, and beautifully crafted sentences that manage to capture the tenderness of longing and self-discovery, Merit and Jane’s love story feels both realistic and escapist, a queer romance done right.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Compelling…An exploration of love that not only brings steamy physical satisfaction but also allows Merit to become vulnerable and honest with herself and her partner for the first time. Recommended for readers who enjoy introspective relationship fiction.” –Booklist
“Wise, witty, and tender, Like a House on Fire is a multilayered examination of connection and desire that artfully tackles the question: what if the person you are isn’t the one you set out to be? It’s beautifully written with deep empathy and vivid characters. I was utterly seduced and satisfied by this book.” –Camille Perri, author of When Katie Met Cassidy and The Assistants
“Like a House on Fire is an un-put-downable novel about motherhood, middle-aged malaise, questioning identity and the choices women are forced to make. I found parts of myself on every page; every woman will find herself along the way as they turn the pages of Merit's life and get lost in McBrayer's raw, emotional and stunning prose. And the ending... well, I'm still shaking. Every woman should read this book. Alert your book club, this one will bring out the discussion, the confessions and the wine.” –Elyssa Friedland, author of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
“Humming with tension and the volcanic rumble of mid-life coming of age, Lauren McBrayer’s Like a House on Fire explores queerness against the backdrop of rekindled ambition, marriage, motherhood and the various trappings of hetero-normative expectations. This book will wake you up and turn you on.” –Rebecca Woolf, author of All of This and Rockabye