Brilliant brothers Langley and Homer Collyer are born into bourgeois New York comfort, their home a mansion on upper Fifth Avenue, their future rosy. But before he is out of his teens Homer begins to lose his sight, Langley returns from the war with his lungs seared by gas, and when both their parents die, they seem perilously ill-equipped to deal with the new era. As the brothers construct a life on the fringes of society, they hold fast to their principle of self-reliance. But they are mocked and spied on, and despite wanting nothing more than to shut out the world, the epic events of the century flow through their housebound lives as they struggle to survive and create meaning for themselves.
To have 12 readers agreeing to the pleasure of one book is no mean feat, but that is exactly what happened this month with Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow. Every one of us enjoyed the connectivity that the author created with the two Collyer brothers, even if he took some license with the facts. Denise felt we needed to put the real story of Homer and Langley Collyer away, and simply enjoy Doctorow’s brilliant characterisation of these two extraordinary souls.
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