I believe there are different kinds of families — the ones we are born into or marry and those we connect with throughout life, at work or play or by chance. The people in this novel are a “family” who live in an apartment house in NYC.
The tenants are all misfits in one way or another. An artist who had a stroke at an early age; he has given up painting. A bipolar woman is afraid to leave her apartment. A thirty-three-year-old man has the mind of a child. His sister, with her need to care for him, has ruined her marriage. A stand-up comic has lost his touch and is no longer funny. The landlady has dementia. They all try to care for each other in their own ways. To me they feel like a family.
The story is funny, touching, and sad. Ms. Alcott’s characters are vivid and entertaining. She kept my interest from beginning to end.
It occurred to me that most of my reviews on this blog are more about the authors and their writing style than the novels. Maybe that’s true of most reviews.
Donna Leon’s writing fascinates me. She writes about Commissario Guido Brunetti and his police cases in Venice, Italy. I have read several of her books and feel as if from her writing I could visit Venice and feel at home. I also feel I know Guido Brunetti and several of the other characters in her stories.
The laid-back atmosphere of the Venice police permeates the book, interwoven and contrasting with a chilling plot. Brunetti takes long lunches at home with his family. He sits in his office contemplated the case he is working on, wanders the streets (or canals) of Venice not always knowing what he is looking for, and appears to socialize with others in his department as much as working. He has an appreciation of old Venice, its art, architecture, culture, people…and at times bemoans that it is becoming too much of a tourist destination.
The name of this book is misleading. It is a crime novel, a mystery, not a love story. The plot involves an opera singer who is being stalked. I won’t go into details about the book, but will tell you it ends with a powerful climax. Very unusual. Most novels give us at least one chapter of wrap-up after the climax. But none was needed.