The Woman Upstairs

Claire Messud. Knopf, $25.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-307-59690-1
The gifted Messud, writing her way through the ages, has now arrived at a woman in her 40s–and it’s not pretty. Nora Eldridge, a schoolteacher who dreams of being an artist, is angry, cynical, and quietly desperate. Then she meets the Shahid family: Sirena, Skandar, and Reza, a student in Nora’s third-grade class at Appleton Elementary in Cambridge, Mass. When Sirena asks Nora to share an artists’ studio, Nora falls in love with each exotic Shahid in turn: Sirena, for her artistic vision; Skandar, for his intellectual fervor; and Reza, because he’s a perfectly beautiful child, bullied at school but magnanimous. In her previous books, Messud (The Emperor’s Children) has set individuals against the weight of kin; here is an individual who believes she’s found a vigorous self in the orbit of a dangerously charismatic family. But after freeing Nora from herself, the Shahids betray her, Sirena especially, cruelly exploiting a private moment of Nora’s newfound joy with an intimate work of art Sirena shows in Paris without Nora’s knowledge. As with other Messud characters, these too are hard to love; few would want to know the unpalatable Nora, so full of self-loathing, nor the self-important Shahids. Agent: Georges and Anne Borchardt, the Borchardt Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/18/2013
Release date: 04/30/2013
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FORMATS
Open Ebook - 197 pages - 978-0-307-96240-9
Hardcover - 461 pages - 978-1-4104-5959-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-307-40117-5
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-307-74376-3
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-48575-4
Paperback - 459 pages - 978-1-59413-728-0
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-84408-733-4
Hardcover - 978-1-4713-5038-2
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-84408-731-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-84408-732-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-91362-3
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-307-40116-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-91360-9
Hardcover - 978-0-307-40118-2
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