Welcome to the blog tour for The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen. Read on for more details from this exceptional debut, and enter for your chance to win one of three signed copies of the book!
The Weighing of the Heart
Publication Date: March 22, 2019 (Obliterati Press)
Genre: Literary Fiction
Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall – and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.
But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.
Paul Tudor Owen’s intriguing debut novel brilliantly evokes the New York of Paul Auster and Joseph O’Neill.
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Sooner or later, everybody comes to New York, and I was no exception. For me it was art school that brought me over, and I left behind the brash primary colours of late-90s London gladly and without remorse. Here I could reinvent myself, as others had before me, among the shining slabs of a city that seemed to have scale where others only had size, where history was measured in the minutes rather than the centuries, and where each of its ten million inhabitants began their lives anew each morning when they awoke and pulled up the blinds. After college I did everything I could to remain, winning a job and the work permit that came with it at the Bougainville Gallery in Chelsea, and spending the next few years living in a tiny apartment in Greenpoint with my girlfriend Hannah, working together at the gallery each day and growing gradually further and further apart.
In early spring in 2011, things finally came to a head, and I moved out, for reasons I don’t really want to go into here. I left, and went to stay on the couch of a former colleague in whom I’d increasingly been confiding. His name was not Jeff, but I have to give him a name and Jeff will do as well as any other. Hannah’s name wasn’t really Hannah either.
Jeff had two aunts who lived uptown in one of those huge late-nineteenth-century apartment blocks where wealthy families often take up a whole floor. Their apartment was enormous, sprawling, Jeff said, with an elegant roof garden looking out in a wide panorama over Central Park. But it was also ragged and unloved, and slowly rotting away; his aunts only lived there two days a week, spending the rest of their time at their other home on Long Island. To make sure the place didn’t collapse completely they usually took in a lodger, and as luck would have it, Jeff told me, they needed one right now. Since I was desperate to find somewhere to live, he would take me round to meet them and we could see whether we hit it off.
Far from being desperate to find somewhere to live, I was in fact quite enjoying my evenings in his apartment in Clinton Hill watching reality TV with his witty and outspoken girlfriend Severin, whose parents had named her after the character in the Velvet Underground song Venus in Furs. But I am a very suggestible person, and I must admit that as Jeff and I talked about it more I found myself drifting off into an agreeable fantasy about life in that cavernous apartment a stone’s throw from Central Park – the white whorl of the Guggenheim visible from the living room window, MoMA, the Met – and I began to feel really quite excited about the whole idea. For the five days each week when the Peacock sisters would be away I would have the whole palatial penthouse to myself, and it was pleasant to feel even in a vague and materialistic sense that I would be making some progress in my life after my break-up with Hannah, which I felt had set me back a step as the rest of my friends busied themselves getting married, getting pregnant, getting comfortably settled in for the next stage of life.
So I went up there with Jeff and Severin after work the next Wednesday, Severin boasting during the subway ride that the sisters viewed her as “the daughter they never had”, and they introduced me to Marie and Rose Peacock. We all had a glass of California red, and Marie and Rose took me on a quick whirl around the apartment – including the small bedroom beside the roof garden that would be mine. Then it was time for the Peacocks to leave for the theatre and we all took the lift down to the street. As Jeff flagged them down a cab, Marie Peacock asked me a few questions about my job, tugged thoughtfully at her coat cuffs, peered into my eyes, and abruptly proposed rent of a hundred dollars a week, a sum so minuscule for the Upper East Side she might as well have made it one peppercorn. I couldn’t shake her hand fast enough.
“We’ve been looking for a lodger for a while now,” she told me, as we sheltered from the spring breeze under the building’s awning.
“A year or two, off and on, since the last one,” put in Rose.
“We like to have someone we know…” continued Marie.
“Someone we know, or a friend of a friend…”
“Or a friend of a nephew!” said Marie, waving a gloved hand in Jeff’s direction. “So it often takes us a while to find the right person.”
“The last young man painted the bedroom walls green,” Rose recalled mournfully.
“I think we’ll say no painting the walls this time,” decided Marie. “Is that all right, young man?”
“Of course,” I said.
“You can move in tomorrow if you like,” added Rose, as Jeff held open the cab door.
So I did.
About the Author
Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.
He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.
His debut novel, The Weighing of the Heart, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and longlisted for Not the Booker Prize 2019.
Giveaway: For your chance to win a signed copy of Paul’s book, click the link below!
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Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
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Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
Kristin’s Novel Café (Spotlight) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com/
Viviana MacKade (Guest Post) https://viviana-mackade.blog/
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/
Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
My Bookish Review (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com
Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophagist (Spotlight) http://thebibliophagist.blog/
Port Jerricho (Spotlight – Review to Follow) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
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Sophril Reads (Spotlight) https://sophrilreads.com/