Real Estate at the Institute
The subtitle of a review in the Guardian of Deborah Levy's Real Estate mentions a move to France for "a fellowship in Paris." It was here, at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, that Levy began working on the last installment of her three-part "living autobiography."
“In Real Estate, as in The Cost of Living, Levy is preoccupied with the meaning of home, that ‘gendered’ space that has so long been regarded as the domain of women. What does it cost a woman to make a home or to unmake one? The Cost of Living examined the author’s decision, in her 50s, to leave her marriage of 23 years and the family home that grounded it, and create a different kind of home, in a “crumbling apartment block” with her teenage daughters…Real Estate charts the next logical step in that process, as Levy turns 60 and her younger daughter goes off to university, unshackling her finally from domestic obligations and forcing her to confront the question of whether the empty nest really offers the freedom for which she has yearned. The magnitude of this psychological upheaval finds a parallel in geographical displacement. Levy is awarded a fellowship in Paris and leaves home at the same time as her daughter, creating for herself a literal empty nest in a barely furnished rental in the 18th arrondissement, while she fantasizes about her ‘unreal estate’: ‘a grand old house with a pomegranate tree in the garden.'”