The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Book Notes | ‘A House Among the Trees’

March 17, 2023, at 2pm

The story and characters portrayed in A House Among the Trees by Julie Glass had their genesis from a New York Times article on the last will of Maurice Sendak, a renowned author and illustrator of children’s books. In his will, Sendak left everything to his personal assistant, who worked closely with him for decades. Those who expected to benefit from Sendak’s literary estate and other valuable works received nothing. In her novel, Glass imagined what it would be like to have the responsibility for a renowned person’s legacy thrust upon oneself.

Three main characters are the center of the story. Each has to deal with the repercussions from the accidental death of Mort Lear, a renowned children’s author, and the unexpected terms of Lear’s will. In his will, he leaves everything to his long-time assistant, Tomasina (Tommy) Daulair. While surprised by Lear’s generosity, Tommy is dismayed by the complicated directives set by the author for how she is to ensure his legacy.

Meredith Galarza is the curator of a children’s museum. She was promised Lear’s literary estate for the museum, but under the terms of will receives nothing.

Nicholas Greene is a British actor who will be portraying the author in an upcoming movie based on his life. Lear arranged for Greene to visit the author’s house among the trees, prior to his death. Tommy agrees that Greene can still come to the house, to immerse himself in Lear ’s home as the actor prepares to play the man in the movie.

Glass relies on flashbacks, moving from present to past, to weave this story. The characters’ individual stories are revealed while their interactions with each other expose hidden secrets in Lear’s life. Each character has to come to terms with how to handle the responsibility for carrying forth the legacy of a creative genius.

UMRA Book Club readers were mixed in their appraisal of the book, but the differences in their reactions to the book led to an interesting discussion. Those disappointed by the book found the characters difficult to like. Some readers also found the use of flashbacks made it difficult to follow the story line, because the transitions among the characters were abrupt.

One member said she liked the book despite the “jumping around” among the different story lines. Others who liked the book thought the story was complex, but found the premise interesting as well as the main characters.

—Kathleen Cramer, UMRA Book Club I member




Book Club I to discuss 'A House Among Trees'

Fri, Mar 17 2023, 2pm

Event to be held via Zoom.

Kathy Cramer will lead the discussion of A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass when the UMRA Book Club meets via Zoom at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 17.

Email Pat Tollefson at [email protected] for more information, including suggestions for starting a new book club.

You can find summaries of the book club members’ discussions under “Book Notes” on this website.


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