March 06

The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd

Here at Readhead our preference is to review books we want you to read rather than books we want you to avoid.   With that in mind, this review is going to be swift and tough – call it a serious literary caution.

I admit the premise of the book is good; well at least good enough to suck me in at a airport bookshop when I was lost without a read.  It tells the story of a young widow Celia who is managing a small block of apartments in New York. Lost in grief, she gets through life by distancing herself from those around her, including the carefully picked tenants in her building.  However as one tenant moves out and another moves in, things start to unravel and she is drawn into the messy and painful “affairs of others”.  The constant interruptions force her out of her grief, re-awaken her sexuality and bring back into the world of the living. Yadda yadda yadda. 

The problem is that it just isn’t pleasant to read.

Despite all the promise of a “mesmerizing debut release”, to me it was just a bunch of confused characters who were unable to move from the bed to the door in less than 3 painful paragraphs.  For example;

“I woke late, and as the morning became midday I could still inhabit a dream and it me and I could see my husband reaching for me with both arms, but they were black with this new green, inky with it, and he was laughing. The phone rang. I didn’t answer it, and when it rang again, this time in a way that struck me as plaintive, I unplugged it. I thought to go back to bed, but I threw water on my face, attended to my teeth, made coffee, still seeing him reaching for me so when the knock came at the door, my door, I could not but think for the interval it took to turn the knob, the lock, that it was him, that he’d managed to find me here.”  There’s plenty more like that.

I notice in the acknowledgements the author; Amy Grace Loyd (executive editor at Byliner Inc. and previously fiction and literary editor at Playboy magazine) describes Celia as a heroine.  Reading that I thought to myself enough is enough. Celia is no heroine I can assure you.  Yes she is female and yes she is a good person but I prefer my heroines to be noble, brave and dare I say, heroic?  In the end, I lost all patience with Celia, her tenants and their problems and for all I know they are still walking around in circles trying to get from the bed to the door.

Read it if you dare and let me know if there is something I am missing.

That is just my 2 cents.