Review The people at number 9 – Felicity Everett
In te book ‘The people at number 9’ it’s all about relationships with your neighbors. It can be extremely important to have a good one. And in the street where Sara and Neil live with their 2 young boys it’s just like that. Everyone gets along fine.
Across the street
Sara and her family get along even better than fine with the neighbors across the street: Carol and Paul. They, like them, are well off, like to give small dinner parties and keep a pleasantly clean home. They are just ‘regular’ people and quite content with that.
Lou and Gavin
Then Lou and Gavin, with their three small children, move in next door to Sara and Neil. When Sara brings them a casserole to welcome them to the neighborhood she immediately senses something different about this family. Lou and Gavin are not just normal people, they are both Artists. Gavin is a well-known sculptor and Lou is a filmmaker. No wonder their house looks like garbage, every penny they had went into the studio basement.
Here art is their life. The kids are left to roam free, no rules, no discipline. This takes some getting used to, but Sara finds herself soon overwhelmed with the wish to become like Lou. Neil, also, is very attracted to the new couple’s lifestyle. It doesn’t take long before they become best friends. Much to the chagrin of Carol from across the street.
All due to jealousy, the two couples laugh it off. If they want to keep their old fashioned lifestyle then so be it. Not Sara and Neil who are changing their way of life into a much more creative one. Sara decides to be the writer she always wanted to be. Neil adjusts his work schedule to drink and smoke till late at night and go to music festivals.
It may be even time to take the boys from school, where they are drilled into good little copies of their class mates. Lou decides they will be homeschooled. Sara enthusiastically agrees. Now they will have a say in a more creative upbringing. Sara works days and nights on her computer to find just that thing. While Lou seems to be doing nothing.
No worries though. Lou knows lots of people who know people. And they can all chip in with arts and crafts. And in the meantime she also happens to know a very influential author who can help Sara publish her book once it’s finished. Lou and Gavin support the other two in a very well-meant way. And that is just it. They mean well. So how come Sara feels more and more burdened with the care taking of all the kids?
She must be mistaken. Lou and Gavin do everything they can to help them being more creative. And of course they need time to do their own work as well. Lou has her film premiere coming up and Gavin needs to work on his show in Budapest. It just takes some more time to get adjusted to a carefree way of life. Sara doesn’t need to vacuum the house once a week, after all.
Lou’s film is a great success. Every critic and person there loves it. Sara has no idea what the film is about. But she’d rather die than admit her ignorance about short literary films. Especially when her Neil tells her he ‘totally got’ the story and its humor. She keeps her thoughts to herself that when there was humor people would have laughed.
There may not have been humor in Lou’s film, but there is definitely lots of it in this book. Have you ever been to an artist party where everybody gushes over the artists work with words nobody understands, least of all themselves? Let alone a literary book promotion? And have you ever been to a party where one person wants to be better than the next and makes a fool of him/herself?
I just know we all have people like Lou and Gavin in our lives. And there is no judgment. The great thing is that they believe in themselves. They are who they are. They are real. You can’t help but feel grudging admiration for them. It’s the people around them that want to be like them, or like anybody else, that need to wake up. The author finds a great way to address this, very common, sense of self.
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