Review: The Affairs of Others, by Amy Grace Loyd
The Affairs of Others, by Amy Grace Loyd. Picador, 288 pp. $24
I read this book last month, but I honestly needed these few weeks to process it. When I began reading, and at least until halfway through the novel, I wasn’t sure about it. Especially coming off of Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In, this isn’t a very fast-paced book, and much of it is quite depressing.
Celia Cassill is still searching for closure from her husband’s death five years ago. She owns a small apartment building that seems to operate symbiotically as a little ecosystem between the tenants. The neighbors are all very tidy, very quiet and unlikely to intrude on the lives of the others living in the building. Celia wanted this, and so every tenant is carefully selected.
When one tenant leaves for a bit, and convinces Celia to let him sublet the apartment to his friend, this well-oiled machine of an environment starts to fall apart. First, this temporary resident doesn’t bother to hide her rather aggressive, and loud, sex life from the other tenants. Soon after, another tenant goes missing.
The further I read, however, the more I appreciated this novel. As much as The Affairs of Others is a look at the lives of the tenants in Celia’s building, it’s a tour through the final stages in her coping with the grief of her husband’s death. This book is told in first person: when we feel depressed reading it is because Celia is experiencing depression in her own life. The Affairs of Others is an incredible book, one that lingered long after I finished reading it. Loyd’s talent for character development is the true charm here, the emotional drive of her characters that push others away and, subsequently, draws them back in.