By Fernanda Eberstadt
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307472397, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Fifteen-year-old Celia Bonnet, nicknamed “Rat,” lives a peaceful life with her mother, Vanessa, a free-spirited local beauty, and Morgan, the nine-year-old orphan they have taken in. Their farmhouse compound, nestled just north of the Spanish Catalan border, is surrounded by artichoke fields and glittering ocean, cliffs where they can spy down on the rich tourists below. But when Vanessa falls for a dangerous new boyfriend, Rat must leave this place she loves.
Together with Morgan, Rat sets out for London to find the father she has never met and the man who might finally explain to Rat where she belongs. An enthralling novel with a luminous sense of place, Rat is the story of a bold, rousing heroine for our times.
Fernanda Eberstadt is the author of four previous novels and one book of nonfiction. Her essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Commentary. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
“A picaresque journey, fraught with peril . . . [amid] the beautiful, desolate, casually despoiled landscape of the Pyrénées Orientales. . . . Shrewd and sensuous.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A lush, loving regional portrait of the wild and beautiful Pyrénées Orientales of southern France. . . . [Rat] wears its literary stylishness and intelligence so lightly that you might only belatedly realize how impressive its clean prose and its trim, exquisite scenes are.” —The Washington Times
“Dazzling. . . . Eberstadt is savvy and uncompromising, and Rat is wonderfully alive.” —Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Lark and Termite
“With a light touch, Eberstadt conjures the wolves and unexpected fairy godmothers of youth. When it comes to finding love, we are all vagabonds.” —Vogue
“[An] enchanting coming-of-age tale. . . . Eberstadt has conjured an intense romance for readers in a culture whose children almost never have a chance to hitchhike through the countryside, create imaginary universes out of ruins, or get lost in the woods, even for a moment.” —Bookforum
“A rigorous, elegant piece of art.” —Slate
“From the flea markets of down-and-out rural France to the artsy upper middle class of London, [Eberstadt has] a sympathy for her character that avoids both the condescension and the romance that plague so much writing about teenagers. . . . Eberstadt, by setting two penniless kids loose, makes it seem as scary and exciting as it was in the days when highwaymen lurked in the forests.” —Harper’s
“[A] finely constructed narrative . . . [with a] fierce, openhearted heroine, who is largely at the mercy of other people’s choices. . . . Eberstadt creates a captivating portrait of how people living hand-me-down lives, laden with objects and personal histories, start to write stories of their own.” —The New Yorker
“Rat is a beguiling young girl.” —Providence Journal
“Stunning.” —The Daily Beast
“Very enjoyable. . . . Refreshing and engaging. . . . In Rat [Eberstadt] shows us a character who is bravely robust in the face of true difficulty and whose open mind may be her salvation.” —The New Leader
“Charming. . . . Deftly captures the vicissitudes of youth and middle age in equal measure.” —More
“Eberstadt’s Huck-Finn-in-the-Pyrenees premise unfurls into a complex commentary on everything from identity and language to domesticity and terrorism. . . . The fact that so much of [Rat] feels entirely new means it must contain something like wisdom.” —The Onion’s A. V. Club
“Eberstadt’s style and acumen are bracing. She skillfully inhabits the skull of a kid saddled with a free-spirited parent and a missing one. . . . It is Eberstadt’s insight into adolescent love-as-combat that adds magic to this modern-day fairy tale.” —The Plain Dealer