The Lunar Housewife

Caroline Woods. Doubleday, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54783-3

This cleverly inventive yet authentic–feeling early Cold War thriller from Woods (Fräulein M.) takes on the New York publishing world from a woman’s perspective, while containing a novella-length American-Soviet space romance written by the protagonist with parallels to her own life. In 1953, Louise Leithauser has been pseudonymously writing about politics for a hot new literary magazine cofounded by her boyfriend, Joe Martin, and his charismatic partner, Harry Billings. The role brings her close to publishing celebrities who could be interested in the romance she’s working on, but also forces her into socializing with Harry and the woman he’s dating behind his wife’s back, a waitress who also knows the unglamorous secrets of Louise’s past. Meanwhile, an overheard conversation leads Louise to investigate Joe’s connections to government censorship of literary expression. Real-life writers add spice, including a playfully frank Ernest Hemingway, whom Louise befriends during an interview for which he requests a female reporter. The suspense builds as Woods shifts between the main narrative and the space romance, which provides a window into Louise’s frustrated mindset about gender dynamics, politics, and power. This is a delightfully different variety of spy story. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (June)
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