The Houseguest Summary
Thomas Berger

Everything you need to understand or teach The Houseguest by Thomas Berger.

  • The Houseguest Summary & Study Guide

The Houseguest Summary

As in most of his novels, Thomas Berger's central theme in The Houseguest is the moral initiation of a sympathetic character. In this case, the central character is a woman (a nearly unprecedented event for Berger): Lydia, the daughterin-law of Doug and Audrey Graves, who has been married to their son, Bobby, for only five weeks. Lydia is from an ItalianAmerican family who have recently become wealthy. The Graveses represent old wealth and status; Doug is an attorney in a prosperous law firm established by his grandfather. The polite, but unfeeling, social setting provides a new and challenging environment for Lydia.

Lydia gains insight and self-esteem, even as the civility of the novel begins to unravel, She finds that, almost alone in the family, she retains a sense of moral responsibility. She also proves to have the strongest inner resources for dealing with Chuck's challenge to...

(read more from the Short Guide)