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Twelve Rooms with a View    by Theresa Rebeck order for
Twelve Rooms with a View
by Theresa Rebeck
Order:  USA  Can
Shaye Areheart, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Theresa Rebeck's Twelve Rooms with a View is filled with fascinating and eccentric characters. A surprising story that takes unexpected turns throughout, it's told by thirty-two year old Tina Finn, whose bad taste in boyfriends had left her working as a cleaner and living in a trailer park.

When Tina's mother Olivia dies unexpectedly, she learns at the funeral from her sisters (forceful, managing Lucy who works in PR and fearful, high-strung Alison who is married to Daniel) that they have apparently inherited a twelve room heritage apartment overlooking Central Park and worth about eleven million dollars. Their mother was not wealthy but had married the reclusive Bill Drinan, who had himself died only a few weeks earlier, leaving the apartment to his wife. Though Bill had two sons, Doug and Pete, they had been estranged for some time and did not inherit.

Since Tina, 'the problem child who doesn't get a vote', is currently homeless and penniless, and immediate occupancy might give some legal advantage, her sisters and brother-in-law decide that she should move in immediately. They find 'an apartment so huge and beautiful it was beyond imagining ... So many turns in the hallways leading to so many different dark rooms that you thought maybe you'd stumbled into a dwarf's diamond mine.' Their mother and Bill had been using only a few rooms and the kitchen was covered in moss - which Tina soon learns is because Olivia had allowed the elflike penthouse tenant, Len Colbert, to use the room as a mossery.

The first night, Tina's sleep is interrupted by the arrival of two huge, angry, drunk men - Doug and Pete Drinan (a police officer). They contest ownership. Then the building's co-op board meets to mobilise legal action against the sisters. But, though Tina is the family black sheep, she's a canny one. She mounts her own offensive, starting with the installation of a spring bolt and chain guards on her door. She works on getting to know neighbors, in particular the large family above her, and finds a secret, rat-ridden passageway through the walls. She hears a ghost. She learns about the tragic Drinan family history and discovers a treasure trove of stored belongings in the apartment, including a valuable pearl necklace.

Though Tina does make friends and allies, they are not powerful ones, and she is eventually evicted. But, along the way, she manages to do some good, to put aside a nest egg, and to settle her future. She leaves the wrangling over the inheritance to those family members who obsess over it and gets on with her life. Twelve Rooms with a View, a highly recommended read, has a tremendously satisfying ending. Don't miss this one.

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