Tuesday, 31 May 2022

A House Among the Trees

Finished May 4 
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass

This novel reads almost like a memoir, except we have more than one character's point of view. The biggest voice is from Tomasina (Tommy) Daulair, who was the assistant to the children's book author and illustrator Mort Lear. He has recently died and she is surprised to find that he has left her his house and its contents, as well as appointing her his literary executor. As Tommy reflects on her relationship with Mort, we see how they came to meet, and how she eventually became such an important person in his life. We also see how his life became hers in a way that she didn't expect or necessarily want. 
Another voice is that of Nicholas Greene, an Oscan-winning British actor who was recently cast in the role of Mort in a biopic about a portion of his life. Nick is in his thirties and, while he has been an actor for years, only recently came into real fame. We see his background, how he found his career, who he looks to for guidance, and his short, but intense, conversations with Mort prior to his death, resulting in Nick having secrets about Mort that no one else knows. 
The third voice is that of Meredith (Merry) Galarza, a divorced museum curator, who had formed a good relationship with Mort and his art, and was planning a new building featuring his work, along with other children's author/illustrators. She is surprised and disappointed not to be named his literary executor and get possession of his work. She is under pressure from her superiors to regain some ground in this regard, so the plans regarding the new building will be able to go ahead without significant reworking. 
One of Mort's most famous books is Colorquake, a picture book about a young boy, Ivo, who lives in a world without color until he discovers he can draw things that come to life and bring color to his world. He had done other picture books along with a series for teens and many other projects. 
One of the things he has tasked Tommy to do in his will is to create a foundation that will fund a shelter for runaway and homeless boys. This sense of a boy in poverty, feeling alone, is one that runs through the book in more than one way. 
Julia Glass is very good at creating strong, deep characters, ones that you really get to know the inner workings of. You see their insecurities, the personas they present to the larger world, and the way that they relate to a number of people in their lives. 
The novel brings these characters together and ties their stories together in interesting and unexpected ways. 
I really enjoyed this book and all three of these complex characters. 

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