The Woman Upstairs

By Claire Messud
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307596901, 253pp.)

Publication Date: April 30, 2013

List Price: $25.95*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the May 2013 Indie Next List
“The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud’s chronicle of a year in the life of 37-year old schoolteacher Nora Eldridge, is gorgeous and brutal, tender and fierce. When Skandar and Sirena Shahid (worldly intellectuals from Lebanon and Italy, via Paris) whirl into Nora’s Cambridge neighborhood, she falls into an intense relationship with their family. You know betrayal is imminent, but that doesn’t make the unraveling any less unsettling. Messud’s portrait of a woman’s rage is startlingly refreshing, and her sentences, as always, are perfection.”
-- Elizabeth Sher, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC


Description

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children, a masterly new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own.

Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, long ago compromised her dream to be a successful artist, mother and lover. She has instead become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Then into her life arrives the glamorous and cosmopolitan Shahids—her new student Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale, and his parents: Skandar, a dashing Lebanese professor who has come to Boston for a fellowship at Harvard, and Sirena, an effortlessly alluring Italian artist.

When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies, Nora is drawn deep into the complex world of the Shahid family; she finds herself falling in love with them, separately and together. Nora’s happiness explodes her boundaries, and she discovers in herself an unprecedented ferocity—one that puts her beliefs and her sense of self at stake.

Told with urgency, intimacy and piercing emotion, this brilliant novel of passion and artistic fulfillment explores the intensity, thrill—and the devastating cost—of embracing an authentic life.




About the Author
Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1996. Her second novel, The Last Life, was widely praised and has been translated into several languages.


NPR
Thursday, May 9, 2013

In her new novel, Emperor's Children author Claire Messud explores the complicated relationship between two women: Nora, who longed to be an artist and have a family but failed, and the woman Nora befriends, who puts her art first and built a family as well. More at NPR.org

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