This novel is the story of Otto Laird, an elderly, physically- and mentally-failing architect who returns after a long absence to London to save one of his buildings marked for demolition. The once brilliant, now dilapidated building mirrors Laird’s own life. As a crew films Laird returning to and living in the building for several days, Laird reviews his life: his childhood hidden in a cellar during World War II, his early joy in meeting his first wife as a student in London and designing the building in question, their later troubled marriage and his troubled fatherhood as his career soared, his reconciliation with his wife, and finally his devastation by her death.
The Restoration of Otto Laird can best be described as compelling. The reader must keep reading to discover what happened in Otto’s life to cause his presently fractured state and to discover if he will live long enough to mend those fractures and save his building. The extended metaphor of the building fits beautifully in this psychologically complex, wonderfully written story. Truly, Nigel Packer has written a novel that should not be missed.
(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of the book in Manhattan Book Review.)