Observatory Mansions was once the Orme family's ancestral home. Now it is a crumbing apartment block, stranded on a traffic island and peopled with eccentrics. Alice Orme never stirs from her bed, her husband lives in his old armchair, and Francis, their son, practises his own art of stillness as a human statue in the centre of the decaying city. He lives by his Law of White Gloves, never touching anything without their protection, and collects items for his secret exhibition - items stolen, not because of any monetary worth, but because they are treasured by the owners.
This careful routine is shaken by the arrival of a new resident, Anna Tap, half blind and vulnerable, but with a strange gift for inspiring trust. As the other residents gradually open their hearts to her, Francis realises he must act before she forces him to confront his own past, and before she finds out about the mysterious final object in his exhibition. But as the currents of memory and desire swirl within Observatory Mansions' crumbling walls, it seems the sinister Porter has plans of his own...
Edward Carey's debut is a novel of immense originality - a strangely haunting landscape occupied by compelling and unforgettable characters.