A House Among the Trees

A House Among the Trees

by Julia Glass

Overview: In Julia Glass's fifth book since her acclaimed novel Three Junes won the National Book Award, she gives us the story of an unusual bond between a world-famous writer and his assistant—a richly plotted novel of friendship and love, artistic ambition, the perils of celebrity, and the power of an unexpected legacy.

When the revered children's book author Mort Lear dies accidentally at his Connecticut home, he leaves his property and all its contents to his trusted assistant, Tomasina Daulair, who is moved by his generosity but dismayed by the complicated and defiant directives in his will. Tommy knew Morty for more than four decades, since meeting him in a Manhattan playground when she was twelve and he was working on sketches for the book that would make him a star. By the end of his increasingly reclusive life, she found herself living in his house as confidante and helpmeet, witness not just to his daily routines but to the emotional fallout of his strange boyhood and his volatile relationship with a lover who died of AIDS. Now Tommy must try to honor Morty's last wishes while grappling with their effects on several people, including Dani Daulair, her estranged brother; Meredith Galarza, the lonely, outraged museum curator to whom Lear once promised his artistic estate; and Nicholas Greene, the beguiling British actor cast to play Mort Lear in a movie.

When the actor arrives for the visit he had previously arranged with the man he is to portray, he and Tommy are compelled to look more closely at Morty's past and the consequences of the choices they now face, both separately and together. Morty, as it turns out, made a confession to Greene that undermines much of what Tommy believed she knew about her boss—and about herself. As she contemplates a future without him, her unlikely alliance with Greene—and the loyalty they share toward the man whose legacy they hold in their hands—will lead to surprising upheavals in their wider relationships, their careers, and even their search for love.

Faith Bowers (10/06/17): The life of a long term personal assistant can mean giving up on your own life. This is actually one of two books I am reading about with the personal assistant as a theme. Swing Time by Zadie Smith is the other which I will write about when I am finished with that novel. There is glamour in being personal assistant for a famous person. In this case did the illustrator/author Mort Lear become famous due to Tommy's indiscretion as a 12 year old? Since their lives connected way before fame and working together makes for a history of both their families.

Julia Glass loves the back story as much as the ongoing plot which is the death of Mort Lear and the requests in his will that are to be executed by Tommy. here are questions to be answered, money to inherit and life continues on even for those who are close to the deceased. The sub plots are all good and so I enjoyed this elaborate novel and look forward to Ms. Glass’s next project.
Rating: ***

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