Cover image for The cornflake house
The cornflake house
Gregory, Deborah, 1949-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
228 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Eve has grown up in a decidedly unconventional family, one of seven multi-racial children with different fathers and a mother who raises them her own way.It is a family without men, a family of children whose various talents are always at odds with the rest of society. When Eve is eight, her mother Victory calls upon her own special, rarely used talent-second sight, "the ability to harness chance."This rare gift brings Victory forebodings of disaster, but it also wins her first prize in a cereal-box competition. Suddenly the rag-tag family is leaving its trailer home and moving into a brand-new house in a leafy London suburb:The Cornflake House.The consternation among residents at their arrival has comic, then disastrous, consequences. Now Eve is a young woman in trouble.How she got there, and how her amazing mother planned long ago to help her, makes for a dramatic and utterly original novel of family and magic.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eve, the narrator, recounts her story of growing up in an unconventional family and the crime that landed her in jail through a series of letters written from prison to a visitor named Matthew, in the hopes of winning his attention and affection. Eve's mother, Victory, is an eccentric woman who has the gift of magic. Victory uses her magic to win a cereal-box contest and then moves her impoverished family, consisting of seven multiracial children all fathered by different men, from a beat-up trailer into the "Cornflake House," built in an affluent English suburb. Never giving too much away at one time, Eve alludes to the reasons for her imprisonment and in every letter intertwines her growing desperation for her current plight with her regret-tinged, heartbreaking reflections of her past. With subtle humor, Gregory tells an engaging tale of one woman's fight for freedom and her mother's plan to help her get it. Gregory gives a strong first effort and will undoubtedly be compared to Alice Hoffman. --Carolyn Kubisz

Publisher's Weekly Review

British author Gregory debuts with this lively account of a raggle-taggle gypsy family whose supernaturally gifted mother, Victory, wins them a home in respectable Surrey. Eve, the eldest of seven children sired by an assortment of absentee fathers, relates her bohemian upbringing in letters to her prison visitor, with whom she is infatuated. A single mother of teenage Blessing, a boy now living on the streets, Eve continues to struggle with her miraculous, dysfunctional childhood while contending with incarceration. Gregory backs into her story (Eve's crime is not revealed until well into the book), concentrating on the obscure lineage of Eve's multiracial siblings ("Samik, at five, is as cuddly as a panda... He's not entirely English, he has a look of Eskimo around the eyes which marks him out for special treatment at school") and Victory's clairvoyance. Admirers of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love may find the oddities of this family tame, but Gregory's slapstick delivery and colorful language create an Alice in Wonderland sense of the surreal ("My mother had been experimenting for weeks with the concept of time. Clocks in The Cornflake House had spun backwards, chimed when it was not the hour, jerked their troubled hands forwards as if learning to drive"). Alternately, her compassionate observations of the affection that binds these kids to each other and to Victory ground the story in authentic family life. While Eve's shocking discovery at the end adds little to an appreciation of her current situation, her loving acceptance of her siblings' rough charms and Victory's magic close the book on a uplifting note. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This confusing first novel is the first-person ramblings of middle-aged Eve, the eldest child of an impoverished British family. The eccentric clan consists of her single mother, who has the gift of second sight, and her six multiracial siblings, all of whom have different, unknown fathers. As the story begins, Eve is in prison and mentally conversing with a mysterious man named Matthew. She relates how her mother used her magical powers to win a new suburban house in a cereal-box contest and how furious the neighbors were when the unconventional family moved in. Each of the children has striking talents and profound disabilities, and much of Eve's story revolves around her memories of their difficult childhood and the pain of not being accepted. Late in the novel, we learn that Eve has set fire to the neglected house where her mother is bedridden and that she is now charged with murder. Too many thinly drawn characters, an unsympathetic protagonist, and a muddled plot make this a book that cannot be recommended.√ĄPenny Stevens, Centreville Regional Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.