The Affairs of Others


Title: The Affairs of Others
Author: Amy Grace Loyd
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: August 27,2013
Pages: 304
How I Got It: NetGalley

"Five years after her young husband’s death, Celia Cassill has moved from one Brooklyn neighborhood to another, but she has not moved on. The owner of a small apartment building, she has chosen her tenants for their ability to respect one another’s privacy. Celia believes in boundaries, solitude, that she has a right to her ghosts. She is determined to live a life at a remove from the chaos and competition of modern life. Everything changes with the arrival of a new tenant, Hope, a dazzling woman of a certain age on the run from her husband’s recent betrayal. When Hope begins a torrid and noisy affair, and another tenant mysteriously disappears, the carefully constructed walls of Celia’s world are tested and the sanctity of her building is shattered—through violence and sex, in turns tender and dark. Ultimately, Celia and her tenants are forced to abandon their separate spaces for a far more intimate one, leading to a surprising conclusion and the promise of genuine joy." 

It is difficult not to compare Amy Grace Lloyd's The Affairs of Others to Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking.  The main character, Celia, possesses a raw grief for her husband. Remembering small details and constantly wrapping herself in the past. Just as Didion wove poetry into her memoir, Lloyd gives Celia's thoughts poetic slants. Her realization of distance and street names in a particular scene when she is walking between Atlantic and Pacific streets perfectly encompasses how one can suddenly look at something they have seen many times before, and now look at from a new perspective. 
Celia doesn't want to move on. She wants to live on her memories and dismisses anyone wedging their way into her microscopic life. She can't stand that life and time move forward and exerts her control on the only thing she can: her apartments. She wants quiet tenants who keep to themselves. But when a subletter begins a loud affair, an elderly tenant goes missing and a couple's marriage shows signs of strains, Celia is forced to acknowledge the progression of time and other relationships occuring around her everyday. Although she is stubborn and numbs her pain, she is not weak. She is both resents and is protective of her tenants.
The Affairs of Others is a deeply moving novel focusing on the minutiae of grief, the desire to hold onto the past as the clock ticks, inevitably, forward. 


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