J W. (Davis, CA)
A Stunning Story of Grief
This story is about grief in many forms and how each person deals with his or her own grief. Some ways are expected, others are very surprising. It's a beautifully written book that quietly tells the separate human stories which are at times shocking and often very sad, but also illuminating. It is a book I think about. It is a book I recommend to friends.
Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Good-by forever and then?
Early in The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd, the protagonist Celia Cassill says "My husband died a difficult death. I went with him, or a lot of me did….American life asks us to engage in an act of triumphant recovery at all times or get out of the way. I have been happy to get out of the way." Celia's attempt to counter her grief by becoming a fastidious yet inconspicuous landlord is destined for failure. In reference to her tenants she says "I am not here to make a family of them, to know them too well…" yet she keeps a watchful eye on each, secretively tackling their anguish in lieu of her own.
Loyd's book is not without its surprises, especially the extent to which Celia becomes involved physically. While the details of the story are engaging Loyd's prose is more so. An example is her repeated reference to hands; Les's large sometimes violent ones and her own, small but possibly equally destructive. This book does not feel like a first novel and is highly recommended for anyone seeking a compact, satisfying read that will linger once completed.
Mary M. (Beverly Hills, FL)
This book is so beautifully written; I found myself, within the first two or three pages, going back and re-reading sentences just for the delight of them. I so wish I could write something like this: "But the day ran too high. It was radiant and boasting, making a parade of its assets and so required cheering bodies and attitudes".
Celia, the young widow of the story, has made a bargain of sorts with her dead husband, to join him in the world of death, to keep him with her - not literally - but she is, in her way, dead to the life and love around her. She owns a small apartment building in Brooklyn and rents to tenants carefully chosen to maintain her and their "separateness." Then she sublets to a dazzling woman, herself leaving a marriage. Celia is gradually drawn into this woman' life, and into those of her other tenants. And she is seduced by life. This sensuous, heartbreakingly sad and ultimately joyous book will seduce you too.
Lou R. (Denton, MD)
Affairs of Others
This book was not what I was expecting. Celia, the landlord, had not completed grieving her husband. She wanted to be alone; however, her tenants pulled her into their lives with the necessities of the building. In taking care of the building, Celia lived her life through her tenants. She took liberties with them and felt entitled to their personal lives when she entered their apartments. Taking care of the building gave Celia order and balance until she met Hope. Celia did not immediately take to Hope; however, circumstances threw them together and made Celia realizes how much in common she had with Hope. I recommend the book. We tend to judge or dislike a person for something we have a conflict within ourselves.
Meredith K. (HACKENSACK, NJ)
Stick with it!
I found the novel very well written with a good even flow. At first I found it boring but after reading it for a while I realized how good the book really is.
The main character Celia is a woman who is looking at life through an imaginary window. She has everything carefully worked out so she can look out but nobody could look in. That all changes when a new tenant moves into her brownstone.
Hope is just the opposite of Celia. She loves people and enjoys having a good time. Unfortunately Hope is needy and she and Celia start a friendship that brings out the misery that befall humans when perfectly laid plans for long lasting marriages fall short of expectations.
Susan K. (Dartmouth, MA)
A new author to keep track of.
I'll start with the positives: yes, I will probably read this author's next book, the reason why is because of the hauntingly beautiful, evocative writing this debut author exhibits. I found myself marking sentences and paragraphs as I went along, reading them over, sometimes aloud, as poetry (Kudos to you for that, Ms. Loyd!).
That said, I actually read the entire book twice, because the storyline was so dense with the characters' actions and details I couldn't digest it properly in one read (not really a criticism). My main criticism is of the gratuitous sex throughout, with violence towards women. Though I understand why the author might have done that, I'm sorry she did. I guess what bothered me just as much was that the characters did not really seem to have changed at the end of the book, even though the author ended the book on an upbeat note (but it wasn't, really).
I loved the the themes of separateness, privacy, personal boundaries, lost and found love, but the pervasive unhealthy sexual relationships kind of soured the whole reading experience for me.
Karen R. (Columbus, OH)
Flawed, but interesting characters
This book is well written and has interesting characters. Not necessarily all likable, but interesting. A widow owns an apartment building. You get to know the people in each apartment. It was a book I found myself thinking about even while I was not reading it.