Review: The Restoration of Otto Laird, by Nigel Packer


The Restoration of Otto Laird
by Nigel Packer 



Edition: 2014
Pages: 352
Editor: Sphere 


Summary: 
Elderly architect Otto Laird lives a peaceful existence in Switzerland. Once renowned for his radical and controversial designs he now spends his days communing with nature and writing eccentric (and unposted) letters to old friends. But his charmed life is rudely interrupted when he learns that one of his most significant buildings, Marlowe House, a 1960s tower block in south London is to be demolished.

Otto is outraged and wants to do everything in his power to save the building. So, he reluctantly agrees to take part in a television documentary that will mean returning to London for the first time in twenty-five years to live for a week in Marlowe House. As he becomes reacquainted with the city he called home for most of his life, his memories start to come alive. And as he explores his past, ponders his present and considers the future -- for himself and his building -- he embarks on a most remarkable journey.

Rating: 3/5

Review: 
I will start this review by saying that I received an online copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange of a honest review.

Sometimes writers have beautiful stories to be told. Sometimes they don't even know they are doing it. This stories about moments and characters just appear in the pages of amazingly well written books and push us inside of narratives that can completely distract us from the world we live in. Reading "The Restoration of Otto Laird" was like being inside the mind of an old man, with so much to tell but at the same time so lost in his memories and disgraces and so afraid of the world. Otto is an interesting man, trapped on a time where he was ahead of his peers and prepared to be an avant-garde personality in the British (and European) architecture world.
The first pages show the reader how far away from this reality Otto is in the beginning of the story, living haunted by past decisions and indecisions, the mixed feelings of the desire of activating the dream once more and the need to let it go and stay in the past.
 The book is constructed as if we were inside of the mind of this scared and inconsequential and inconvenient man that is only trying to finish his own story and make peace with the past. It's not only the words and what is being said that make the reader feel that way, but the fact that all speech is paused, rhythmical and long. This makes this book sometimes difficult to read as if you are looking for something quick to read because it keeps going on ramblings - sometimes beautifully connected, sometimes just mixed about everything, from family to work, from colleagues to diseases, from dreams to anchievements. 
Marlowe House and its foundations creates a parallelism between an human being and a building dealing with the same issues and involving the reader in all the conclusions and reflections that appear in every page. 
The unposted letters are manifests from a free mind willing to break strings with conventions and social rules that doesn't make us more happy but only unfaithful to who we are. They are also a enlightenment about the different moods that Otto is experiencing during all these confronts with his past, that appear through an young face that reminds a love from the past, a worn road which used to be the one of more dynamics and used decades ago, some forgotten articles in newspapers that rekindle untreated wounds (but still with possible repair.
"The Restoration of Otto Laird" is a great book that I enjoyed to read without any doubt, but you should take time to enjoy it and not rush through it. It was a beautiful trip to a past on a previous London, where a man still looking for himself finds a way to discover the true about what moved him and created the privileged opportunity to follow him on this marvelous crossroad. 
 
Cláudia
About the author:
 
Addicted to the library Claudia loves to read on the move and we can usualy find her sitting in a train or bus reading while commuting to and from work. But don't be fooled she is also keeping an eye on the landscape and all around her. She is an avid defender of sustainability and volunteering and it's as easy to find her starting a new project as it is to find her chatting with her friends. She is a dreamer and loves good stories so she keeps looking for them in her personal life.

2 leitores reagiram:

  1. Good review Claudia, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I didn't really get into the book so it's interesting to hear what others made of it. I thought there were some really good ideas but the execution let the book down a bit. Ho hum, there was plenty still to enjoy in it.

    My review: The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer

    ResponderEliminar
    Respostas
    1. Hi Matthew, I understand how you felt reading this book. I guess that at the beginning I had the same feeling. My mind changed when I started seeing this story told my the brain and mind of an old man. It made me more flexible in some parts and understandable in others. But I agree that not everybody can like the same books and it's interesting to see why that happens. I found your review very clarifying and engaging. Thank you for your time reading mine!

      Eliminar