Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: "Infinite Home" by Kathleen Alcott

Lyrical, moving, and absolutely exquisite, Kathleen Alcott's Infinite Home had me marveling at her beautiful, almost poetic prose, reveling in the memorable characters, and even getting a bit choked up from time to time.

This is a book about how we find comfort, and sometimes anguish, in the home we make for ourselves and the family we choose to embrace, biological or otherwise. It's also a book about finding strength where we didn't know we had it, and the different ways we adapt to and cope with change.

Edith has been the landlord of a Brooklyn apartment building for years, since she and her late husband Declan bought it. The building was home to some of her greatest joys and some of her greatest sorrows and regrets. She is a model landlady, caring for and nurturing her tenants, knowing when they are in need and knowing just what to give them, although she can't solve all of their problems. Her tenants are a group of troubled but giving people—Thomas, a successful artist whose life is turned upside down after a stroke leaves one of his arms paralyzed; Adeleine, whose obsession with antique objects helps her build a home she never wants to leave; Edward, once a popular comedian, whose childhood has scarred him emotionally; and the amazing, childlike, loving Paulie, whose sister Claudia fulfills her parents' wish that her brother be taken care of appropriately.

When Edith's mental and physical condition weakens, her estranged son returns home to claim the building and wants to evict all of her tenants. As they try to navigate the thoughts of their future, they each must confront challenges and determine what is next for them. But this will require courage, strength, even going beyond their comfort zones.

I absolutely loved this book. It's told in very short chapters, but Alcott's use of language and imagery made me literally sigh and gasp at times. There was one point that I worried she was going to take the book down a path I absolutely dreaded, but she resolved that thread quickly and to my satisfaction, differently than I expected. This is a memorable book, both for how it is told and the characters on whom she focuses, many of whom will stick in your brains and your hearts as they did mine.


  1. Quietly wonderful... Alcott displays a deft hand with every one of her odd and startlingly real characters.... The voices in this book speak volumes. A luminous second novel from a first-class storyteller.

  2. I do agree with your review, but was bothered by her overuse of the word "sweat" and "sweating". I wish I had kept count of the number of times the word "sweat" appeared.