7.6/101 Votes Alchetron
Publication date November 1, 1984
Originally published 1 November 1984
Preceded by Dragons in the Waters
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Series Polly O'Keefe
Pages 308 pp
Genre Young adult fiction
Country United States of America
|Cover artist Muriel Nasser (hardback)|
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Similar Madeleine L'Engle books, Kairos books, Other books
A House Like a Lotus (ISBN 0-374-33385-8) is a 1984 young adult novel by Madeleine L'Engle. Its protagonist is sixteen-year-old Polly O'Keefe, whose friend and mentor, Maximiliana Horne, has sent her on a trip to Greece and Cyprus. As she travels, Polly must come to terms with a recent traumatic event involving Max. The history of Polly's relationship with Max is told in flashback over the course of the novel. The use of double quotes distinguishes the present, whereas single quotes indicate flashbacks from the past.
Polly begins narrating the novel just as she arrives in Greece. She expects to be picked up by her Aunt and Uncle but they were detained and will not arrive in Greece for a few days. Polly goes to her hotel and feels rather depressed about the current state of affairs. But her mood improves when she meets Zachary Gray at the hotel restaurant. He is quite interested in her and is attracted to her innocence. He offers to take her around Greece and show her the sights. Polly is reluctant but agrees.
Zachary is an interesting tour guide and Polly enjoys his companionship. But when Zachary begins to show interest in a romantic and physical relationship, she resists. When Polly's aunt and uncle show up, Zachary is unable to keep up his relationship with Polly but insists that they will see each other again.
During this time, Polly has been flashing back to the past and how she managed to get a trip to Greece. About six months earlier, Polly was introduced to Max, a friend of her uncle. Although Max is a middle-aged adult and Polly is still a teenager, the two begin a friendship and Max encourages Polly to develop her identity. Polly's friend Renny also encourages her and Polly blossoms. When Max admits that she and her "friend" Ursula have been lovers for thirty years, Polly is surprised but decides this does not change who Max is and remains friends. Max also admits she is dying, which devastates Polly. But after one night of heavy drinking, Max makes what seems to be a sexual advance toward Polly. Polly is horrified. Ursula tries to assure Polly that Max loves her (Polly) as a daughter, not in any romantic sense but Polly is still terrified and runs away. She stays with Renny. While still vulnerable and scared, Polly and Renny sleep together. Polly returns to her family and does not tell them about Max or Renny. While she severs all contact with Max, she still accepts the trip to Greece.
In the present, Polly goes to a literary conference, held on Cyprus, where she is to volunteer. Surrounded by new friends and interesting work, Polly begins to heal. But Zachary suddenly appears and asks Polly to go out with him. She reluctantly agrees. The two go sailing on the ocean but an accident occurs and the two nearly drown. They are saved by Polly's friends from the conference. This event makes Polly realize that she needs to talk to Max, before it's too late. She phones America and tells Max that she forgives her. The line goes dead after a few minutes but Polly is satisfied because she and Max are friends once more.