title: Observatory Mansions [support independent booksellers and purchase at Strand]
author: Edward Carey
originally published: 2000
source: Barnes and Noble, Union Square
Full disclosure: If you haven’t gathered as of yet, I’m a bit of a book snob (in the words of my mother). I expect a lot from what I read and sometimes I have a hard time keeping an open mind when reading new authors and new genres based on what I think I might or might not like. That being said, I’m also a book jacket designer’s dream, because I have been known to buy books based solely on an awesome cover, which is exactly what I did here.
Good call on my (completely shallow and aesthetically motivated) part! Gothic horror is not usually my genre de preference, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters that Carey created have stuck with me for months.
The story takes place in Observatory Mansions, an apartment building converted from a mansion owned by the Orme family where Francis, his mother, and his father still reside. Utilizing a series of memories, letters, first person narration and lists, Carey introduces us to the Mansions’ residents and to the buildings apartments, which almost act as characters themselves.
Haunting story filled with love, loss, eccentricity, stillness, loneliness, connection and existence that examines how what remember (and what we forget) can shape who we are. Eerie, disquieting, and at times, heartbreaking.
Rubric rating: 7. I’m definitely going to check out Alva & Irva: The Twins Who Saved a City.