Written by Jan Kline on July 16, 2010

Twelve Rooms with a View, by Theresa Rebeck

53033925.JPGThis is a novel based on a choice piece of Manhattan real estate. Three sisters, estranged from their alcoholic mother, learn at her funeral that she’s left them a shockingly valuable historic Central Park West mansion of an apartment. But the will is contested by the two sons of the stepfather (now also dead) they’ve never met, whose mother was the one who owned the apartment in the first place. And the building’s board wants ALL of them out: the sons because they’re crass and Irish, the daughters because their mother was a cleaning woman. reb190.jpgOld money, trustafarians, a stepfather who refuses to leave the building, an obsessive botanist using the vacant apartment’s kitchen to grow moss, and a possible ghost in a secret room: this novel has more certifiably mad city dwellers than you can shake a stick at. The flakiest of the three sisters is elected to take residence in the apartment. She tries to piece together her mom’s life from the clues left behind: a case of red wine, plenty of vodka, and little else. Her mom and stepfather have, from the looks of it, been living in maybe two rooms of the entire place. She shows signs of following the same downhill slide, but by the book’s satisfying end, she’s grown a spine, a conscience, and her own life outside her inheritance.

author photo: Larry Ford / Crown Publishers

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