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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  4,202 ratings  ·  684 reviews
In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions.

Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Grove Press
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Tim Murphy Hi guys, this is Tim Murphy, the author. Not sure what your question is getting at, but speaking as someone who's reported on and written about HIV/AI…moreHi guys, this is Tim Murphy, the author. Not sure what your question is getting at, but speaking as someone who's reported on and written about HIV/AIDS for more than 20 years, there was a lag of many years between when HIV started circulating widely among unknowing Americans and in the U.S. blood supply (perhaps as early as the early 1970s), when an epidemic syndrome (AIDS) was identified (1981), when the cause of the syndrome was discovered to be the HIV virus (1984) and when a test was developed to start screening the blood supply (1985). So to suggest that people with HIV/AIDS in any way, shape or form were knowingly contaminating the blood supply simply isn't accurate and contributes to a historical demonization of people for merely having a disease, which is a public-health issue, not a moral one. The vast, vast majority of people who tested positive for HIV after the commercial test was released in 1985 had immense wariness and fear about passing it onto others through actions even as harmless as kissing, in the many years when modes of transmission were uncertain. And today, even though every blood donor's sample is screened for HIV and other blood-borne infectious diseases, gay men are still categorically and needlessly barred from donating blood if they've had sex of any sort within the past 12 months. Prior to last year, they were barred for life. People with HIV/AIDS can be prosecuted in several states for having sex even if they are on HIV meds, which multiple studies have now definitively proven makes the virus untransmissible. Morality and public policy have always lagged far behind science and data when it comes to HIV/AIDS.

I want to thank everyone on Goodreads for the wonderful and warm reviews of the book, but it is also frustrating to see scientifically inaccurate or underinformed claims about what supposedly makes people with HIV/AIDS "unsympathetic beyond recall."

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 ·  4,202 ratings  ·  684 reviews

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Jennifer Masterson
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
This is on sale on Audible until 9/17! This played out great via audio!

"Christodora" by Tim Murphy is a brilliant debut novel that spans decades, from 1981 until 2021. It deals with AIDS, drugs, more drugs, rehab, mental illness, homosexuality, adoption, art and many other topics. The novel is set mainly in New York City.

I'm giving this book 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5. I vacillated from a strong 5 to 4 and back to 5 Stars again in the last part of the book.

This novel is everything people are say
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "challenging, transformative, compassionate" stars!!!

2016 Honorable Mention Read with High Distinction

This has been my most challenging read of the year. I hope to explain in a few paragraphs why this is so.

When I started to read this book and at times throughout the book I would slam into ambivalence, denial, disgust, and remorse. As these are all uncomfortable emotions, defense mechanisms would pop up. I wanted to stop reading so many times and throw the book away but I would return again
Elyse  Walters
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Update: This was a fabulous read - it’s a $1.99 kindle special today! Just sharing. It’s a great price for it.

“You have it," she said.
"No, Millipede, you have it."
"Milly held the blueberry between her lips, leaned forward, and shared it with
Jarad--the two of them laughing as they each bit the berry to pull away their half, kissing all the while. The entire transaction took just seconds; they were
certainly not the kind of people to engage in ostentatious and drawn-out public
displays of affecti
Angela M
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gritty , graphic at times and sad . Sad as hell because it's about people whose lives have been broken by AIDS or by the debilitating effects of hard core drug addiction or by mental illness. This was not an easy book to read because even though it's a fictional depiction of the AIDS epidemic, you just know that there is truth here after reading the author's credentials as a writer on the subject (

At first it almost had the feel of a book of connected sh
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book. This story. So vivid, emotional and real, it hurts. The sadness about disease; about family; about the complexity of relationships and the addictive nature and destruction drugs can have.

The christodora is a building. A structure with a history of tenants that spans decades. It's a sad and destructive era - one that is a reality that cut to the core. An era of drugs, unprotected sex, moments of pleasure turning into a life of regret. The HIV epidemic emerging and the damage it leaves
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Finally, a 5 star book! Christodora has a lot of the things I love in a big sprawling novel. It has a great story, is anchored in an interesting historical context, has meaty strong characters and had me truly emotionally invested. The book spans approximately 40 years -- from 1980 to 2021 --and focuses on a group of interconnected characters primarily based in New York. The book's main focus is on Millie -- an artist living in New York -- and her adopted son Mateo -- whose mother died of AIDS w ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This work of fiction is not an easy read, but a reminder of what happened during a scary time in history when the world was troubled by the AIDS epidemic.

Inside the pages of CHRISTODORA the characters are flawed, the sex explicitly graphic, and the drug use overwhelming and deadly yet the story is moving and powerful in its message.

As pieces of several complicated lives come together; despite the lies that shock and hurt, despite the devastating pain of loss, we are thankfully left with a bit of

Andrew Smith
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book unfolded on me like a puzzle. At first it was a confusing jumble of facts, then a frustrating, jumping muddle I couldn't seem to get my head around. But then, as the pieces started to knit together and as I started to see something evolve from the mass of parts, I began to enjoy the process of unpicking it. The parts melded into something satisfying and intriguing and suddenly I started to dread reaching the point where I’d have pieced it all together and completed the task. I eventual ...more
Larry H
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm somewhere between 4.5 and 4.75 stars on this. Not a bad place to be stuck!

When I think of books that read like a movie, I often think of crime novels and thrillers, because as riveting as action or chase sequences might be to read, they always raise your pulse another few notches when you watch them unfold.

Tim Murphy's Christodora couldn't be further from that type of book, but its tremendously memorable cast of characters, a plot spanning 30+ years, and the sheer emotional power of its
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful novel, set in New York beginning in the 80's to the future 2020.
The Christodora is an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village where the fates of many of the characters intertwine.
This chronicles a family and other characters through the AIDS epidemic beginnings and onward.
I loved the characters, even the ones that were so flawed by drug abuse, etc. I loved also reading more about New York.
This had very sad moments, some shocking moments, but also very heartwarming mome
I was totally engaged with the vitality and development of the characters in this warm-hearted saga of a family impacted in multiple ways by the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The author’s method of continually switching the time frame from the 1980s to the present and beyond gave me a wonderful sense of integration from seeing beginnings and endings of significant life pathways in close proximity. Certain acts of kindness or selfishness at one point feed into a character’s choices that bear ca ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“This, he thought on some murky, inchoate level, was what happened as people—a network of people—faced the end, as they realized their collective dreams weren’t coming true, that they were running faster but falling behind, that they were losing coherence and morale. They connected in rash, inappropriate ways, because, most of the time, they were unable to connect at all. The survival instinct was to isolate.”

For me it lived up to the five star hype. It is not a book I would have been drawn
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
* 10/30 update - I got a sweet message from the author, thanking me for my review, but he did correct me in that I am wrong on this being a debut I want to correct that! :)

Christodora is probably my favorite novel of 2016 -thus far. It is a heartbreaking story of AIDS, drug addiction, and mental illness - spanning from the 1980s-2021. My guess would be, after reading Tim Murphy's bio, that much of this is more than fiction. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel. He did a spectac
Connie G
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have a feeling that the characters in "Christodora" will continue to haunt me for a while because this book is so well written. The Christodora is a real apartment building with a colorful history, located in the East Village of New York City. Artists Milly and Jared Traum live there with their adopted son, Mateo, whose natural mother died of AIDS. Hector Villanueva, a former public health worker and AIDS activist, also lives in the building. The book slides back and forth through four decades ...more
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
12/22 Update: I'm running a second giveaway for this awesome book. Open to US and Canadian residents. Visit Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine to enter. Ends 1/4/17 12:00am.

Christodora contains all of the elements you'd expect to find in an epic novel. There's 40 years worth of history, tragedy, triumph, and human drama. Surprisingly, it's well laid out in only 428 pages. I mention this because I can only imagine the difficulty in finding the balance between providing enough context and detail without adding unn
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing

In the early 1980s, when Ava works for the NYC health department, AIDS is an unacknowledged epidemic. Ava’s new protégé is Hector Villanueva, for a short period of time, until he becomes an AIDS activist. Ava, struggling with her mental illness, becomes frustrated with the city’s lack of interest in helping, and opens a home for women with AIDS. Ysabel is one of her “charges,” a young, Latino woman whose family wants nothing to do with her after she’s seen on the NEWS talking about having AIDS.
This is a book that was recommended to me by a book tuber on You Tube.
It took me ages to get into it but it was worth it.

Christodora turns out to be a home where Jarred and Milly live.

I thought this fitted in well for Gay pride month. Hector next door is gay. He’s an addict and very down on his hunkers.

Milly and Jarred have an adopted son, living in New York he grows to see all that it has to offer and life itself. Plus his personal realisation.

Hector the neighbour and themselves become very int
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I've always wanted to read it based on the description and my GR friends' reviews. It is excellent!

I loved the setting, which was primarily New York City from 1981 to 2021. The heart of the story is the AIDS epidemic and the main characters' lives are all touched and linked together in some way by it. I loved all of the characters, who were beautifully and believably fleshed out. The only quibble I have it the way the story is told. It is a bit of
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had actually never even heard of this book until I read a friends review. Then I began to read other reviews on this book. Almost everyone on my friend's list, who has read it, loved it. While I was cautiously optimistic about this book, I also thought "Oh Shit!" what if I don't like it? Then guess what? I stared it and I didn't care for it - initially. So I put it down after 30 or so pages and read several other books and I would pick up Christodora and read a page or two, here and there.

Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite the title, this book is not just about the Christodora building, not just about New York City. I believe the essence of this book is in its people and the things they’re capable of. Cruelty, abandonment, kindness, and love. Despite the hurt caused and havoc wreaked, the characters in this story are not bad people, just very real and flawed human beings. Everyone has a burden that they carry, be it addiction, depression or mental illness. We get to see the tragedies that befall them as th ...more
Joachim Stoop
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, jochen
Dear Mr Murphy,

I bet a lot of your friends and family told you that you wrote a powerfull, brilliant novel. I also bet you and your close ones don't really understand why Christadora wasn't nominated for any award, has less than 500 ratings on Goodreads and didn't really escape City on fire's shadow. I also bet that you regard yourself and your close ones as highly biased. Maybe you even started doubting about how good you thought it was.

Well, I'm sure they are biased, but the're also 100% right
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read many glowing reviews of Christodora written by Tim Murphy and yet I still wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't familiar with the Christodora, an old iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, which provides the backdrop against which this story plays out. I thought I was going to read a tale of the early days of the AIDS epidemic which took such a tremendous toll on New York City, the country and the world in the 1980s and 90s…. and it WAS that. But the story turned out to be so much mo ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2016
This powerful novel is prefaced by a haunting O. Henry quotation: “Pull up the shades so I can see New York. I don’t want to go home in the dark.”

In New York in the 1980s, all too many people – mostly gay, mostly male – were going home in the dark as the AIDS epidemic gained ground. The rest of us, at least in the beginning, were in the dark as well, not quite understanding the gravity and terrifying implications of this horrendous disease and going blithely about our business. It is to Tim Murp
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
5 Remarkable Stars ; 5 for the Audio

Incredibly told, harshly real, but with love.

Heartfelt fiction of the AIDS/HIV epidemic during the 1970-1980s, primarily in NYC where people, young and old, male and female, were dying quickly, sadly, horribly, from this disease no one knew how to fight let alone cure. Intertwined in the facts are stories of people, families, children, couples, students, etc. from all walks of life, socio-economic status, racial and ethnic backgrounds. This disease did not di
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a phenomenal book. It follows the lives of 20 people over three decades who are all loosely associated with a building in the East Village. The author slowly and deftly reveals the interconnection between the seemingly disparate characters. The book examines love, betrayal, addiction, forgiveness, and the ravages of AIDS in a bold and visceral manner. The characters felt very genuine to me and I was sad when the 17 hour audiobook came to an end.
Oct 14, 2016 marked it as didn-t-finish
Shelves: fiction, net-galley, nyc
final thoughts to come on this book I've chosen not to finish...

The book, setting and characters are largely centered on an area of NYC affected by the AIDS epidemic, the ravages of hard drugs along side the gentrification of parts of the city. I have had difficulty dealing with all of the downsides of personal choices in the book and the negativity, especially in some of the young peoples' lives. Perhaps this will be redeemed later in the book, but at this moment in my life it simply doesn't ap
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update - I nominated this for the Debut Goodreads Author. Sadly Christodora hasn't received the notice or traction that I thought it would. It's good. I recommend it.

Voted for "Christodora" in the Opening Round of the 2016 #GoodreadsChoice Awards via @goodreads

— Katie Mc (@KatieMcAtGR) November 1, 2016

Brief review from my phone: totally my kind of book, family journey framed in the historical reference of early AIDS activism. NYC centric with a little bit of left coast to
Book Riot Community
This is in severe contention for my Favorite Book of 2016. We live in a time where HIV/AIDS is no longer seen as a death sentence, but this story reminded me of just how recently being diagnosed attached to you a stigma that would remain with you for your few remaining days. This sweeping tale of AIDS activists and the incredible changes they inspired is heart-wrenching, hopeful and beautiful. Murphy writes in the voices of his characters so distinctly that I could almost hear an audio quality t ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+] This novel is amazing both in its breadth and depth. It spans from 1981 to 2021 and covers the early and later days of the AIDS crisis as well as drug addiction, mental illness and the NY art scene. I loved its New York East Village setting. Mostly though this is a novel about family. And Murphy does a beautiful job of delving into the loving and corrosive relationships between the characters.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I went back and forth between 4 and 5 stars, but need to go with 5. Tough subject matter, but has a very realistic feel to it. Highly recommended.
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Tim Murphy is the author of the novels "Correspondents" and "Christodora," both published by Grove Atlantic. "Christodora" was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. Under the name Timothy Murphy, he is also the author of the 1990s novels "Getting Off Clean" and "The Breeders Box." He has been for nearly 20 years a journalist focusing mostly on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ issues, for publications includ ...more

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“She could feel the Melancholy Demon bearing down.” 1 likes
“Lying in the hotel bed, Hector conceded that, all through ’93, ’94, and ’95, an ever-widening river of good data, mixed with a steady ambient wash of self-importance, had anesthetized his grief. He’d needed that. But now a maw of emptiness and rage was opening beneath him. Idly, he rubbed his bare, trimmed chest beneath the sheets. He’d faithfully hit the gym through these past years of high-level consultancy, grunting out his misery over barbells and machines. His chest was broad and he wished beyond anything that the arm caressing it at this moment was Ricky’s, not his own. But that sunny, silly cutie, like a blond sliver of sunshine on the timeline that Hector envisioned as his life, had missed the drawbridge, along with Issy and Korie and a baleful lot of others. It had all happened in the very, very worst years of sickness and death, Clinton’s first term, overwhelming loss mingled confusingly with tidings of the coming respite.” 1 likes
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