My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Audio Review: A House Among The Trees by Julia Glass

Please Note:  I received an audio book copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
When the revered children's author Mort Lear dies accidentally at the Connecticut home he shares with Tomasina Daulair, his trusted assistant, she is stunned to be left the house and all its contents, as well as being named his literary executor. Though not quite his daughter or his wife, Tommy was nearly everything to the increasingly reclusive Lear, whom she knew for over forty years since meeting him as a child in a city playground where Lear was making sketches for Colorquake, a book that would become an instant classic.

Overwhelmed by the responsibility for Lear's bequest, she must face the demands of all those affected by the sudden loss, including the lonely, outraged museum curator to whom Lear once promised his artistic estate; the beguiling British actor recently cast to play Lear in a movie; and her own estranged brother. She must also face the demons of Morty's painful past the subject of that movie and a future that will no longer include him. A visit from the actor leads to revelations and confrontations that challenge much of what Tommy believed she knew about her boss's life and work and, ultimately, about her own."

As someone who has been an executor of an estate for a family member, I felt an immediate kinship with Tommy, the main character in the novel, A House Among The Trees, by Julia Glass.  Tommy is trying to juggle the competing interests of people who are affected by the will of Morty, the famous children's author, while also mourning a man who was the central figure in her life.

What I Liked:
I just loved all the competing interests in Morty's estate.  There is the museum curator who thought she had an agreement with Morty for him to leave all his archives to the museum, Danny (Tommy's brother), who feels Morty owes him because his likeness was the inspiration for his most famous character, Evo, and Nick, the actor who wants to find out as much personal information he can about the reclusive author.  Poor Tommy!  She must be part counselor, part referee, as she struggles to figure out how to carry out Morty's wishes.
There is more to Tommy role as Morty's assistant than most people know.  She has been with him for nearly thirty years and became his sounding board and companion, or so she thinks.  When she is charged with being the executor of his estate, she begins to wonder if he saw her as anything more than an employee.  She has a lot of conflicting emotions that she needs to work through before she can get over this chapter of her life.

Tommy's brother, Danny, was a child when Morty drew him for a character in one of his books.  Little did anyone know that these books would become hugely popular and sell millions of copies.  Is Danny entitled to anything for this?  He certainly thinks so.  He has had a chip on his shoulder for decades, thinking that he is owed for inspiring Morty, especially since the author never acknowledged him).  Is this the reason why he hasn't been successful in life?  Danny's sense of entitlement is maddening.  While I didn't like his character, he was well-written and represents a kind of person I have interacted with in my own life.
Nick is the actor who is set to portray Morty in an upcoming movie about the author.  Having just won an Academy Award, he is fawned over by fans and chased by the paparazzi.  He had an ongoing exchange of emails with Morty prior to his death, and is determined to continue his research by spending time at Morty's (and now Tommy's) house.  While he was extremely unethical at times, he was earnestly trying to understand Morty for his job.  But sometimes, I wanted to slap him!

The theme that I came away with from the book was that of finding your own house among the trees, a place where you choose to put down roots and live the life you were meant to live.  All the characters struggle with how to set priorities, and choose to do what they feel is their life's work.  While most of us want to be settled this way, others would feel tied down.  There is no right way to live one's life.

What I Was Mixed About:
The Narration for this book was performed by Mary Stuart Masterson.  I felt her style was okay, but not terribly exciting.  I think she could have done more to distinguish between the female voices, as sometimes it was confusing.  

This was a very intriguing book with characters that will give a book club plenty to discuss.  It pays tribute to those who have support roles in life. While they may not be stars, they are what keep society functioning.  And their value cannot be overestimated.






Release Date:  June 13th, 2017

Genre:  General Fiction

Source:  Penguin Random House

Format:  Audio Book

Narrator:  Mary Stuart Masterson

Recommendation:  A great choice for book clubs, and people who enjoy complicated  characters.


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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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