From the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor's Children, a brilliant new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed, and betrayed by passion and desire for a world beyond her own.
Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who long ago abandoned her ambition to be a successful artist, has become the "woman upstairs", a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the fringe of others' achievements. Then into her classroom walks Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale. He and his parents - dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar and professor at the École Normale Supérleure; and Sirena, an effortlessly glamorous Italian artist - have come to Boston for Skandar to take up a fellowship at Harvard. When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies who call him a "terrorist" Nora is drawn 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, until Sirena's careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal. Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this story of obsession and artistic fulfillment explores the thrill - and the devastating cost - of giving in to one's passions.
©2013 Claire Messud (P)2013 Random House Audio
Yes, I already have listened to specific chapters again. The story was beautifully crafted and honest. It showed a depth of understanding of the experiences of the unmarried, childless woman in mid life. This is a subject matter rarely touched on in any form.
I did not have a favorite character as the perceptions of the narrator seemed to be the only character. The other characters were not seen from other points of view. I neither liked or disliked the narrator, didn't even wonder whether I liked or disliked the narrator. I instantly became fascinated with the honesty and bare vulnerability of the story and wanted to know the narrator's journey. I just do not often find this level of honesty. I made no judgments on her life, just interested in knowing her.
Enjoyed it so much! I can't believe this was the subject material that turned into a mini-storm over likable characters. Of course Nora is likable. And not likable. It's a brilliant portrait of a whole person, including a great deal of contemplation on the artificial nature of personal charm. Brilliant novel. I loved every minute.
another girl, another planet
I haven't listened to other books by this reader but I don't think I will be able to as her intonation here on every third sentence made me want to scream. She sounded every few lines exactly like Jenna Mulroney (an irritatingly vapid character from NBC's 30 Rock) which distracted me from the story.
Pretty good story. I liked it - nice twist at the end especially, but I didn't love it and found the character a bit pathetic at times. But maybe that was the point. I was also distracted by the noticeable echo in this recording. It sounded as if the reader hadn't soundproofed her studio properly.
I enjoyed the story, for the most part. But I thought the ending was bizarre and not worth the journey. It left me with a sense that the woman upstairs definitely needs therapy.
No, I will not try another book by this author.
It seems to me that the author used foul language for the purpose of making the story more sensational. I did not like the way it ended - was there even a REAL ending???
The performance was fine. If you have terrible material, it's hard to have a great performance, but the narrator did her part.
This could have been a better story. The character deserve one another.
Queen of UTEE
Eleven hours of absolute drivel. Yes...I liked the narrater and Im confident that the author is probably a good writer but this book did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR ME.
The characters did nothing for me...they were boring, and, it took eleven hours to get to the ridiculous twist at the end...which still had no real ending.
I almost feel angry that it wasted so much of my time that could have been spent on a book with a decent story.
Inferno, Dan Brown
Making it into a short story.
Less droning on about what the reader thinks.
The narrator did her best with the material.
Move on to another choice if you are thinking of listening to this.
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