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The Woman Upstairs Audiobook

The Woman Upstairs

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (495 )
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3.9 (429 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lori Michele Kelley 07-24-15 Member Since 2016

    As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Average woman with an obsession"
    What did you love best about The Woman Upstairs?

    It's one of those books that has atmosphere, where you can hear the sounds, feel the warmth or cold, smell the cigarettes, see the rich colors


    What did you like best about this story?

    Its honesty


    Any additional comments?

    Some people have said this book is just the rantings of an angry woman. I didn't see it that way. I saw it as the thoughts of an average woman whose life intersects with people more talented than she is, and how she struggles with envy, jealousy, self-pity, and obsession. I would have given it 5-stars but for the ending. It seems to me she didn't learn a thing through any of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie San Diego, CA 11-13-13
    Stephanie San Diego, CA 11-13-13 Member Since 2010
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    "So Tedious"

    The good reviews sucked me in to listening to this rather tedious book. I found the main character to be generally unlikeable and, honestly, couldn't have cared less about what happened to her. The "surprising" ending I had been expecting was pretty anti-climactic and I was just happy to have it all end. Although well written, I can't say this was a particularly captivating story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen M. Downes buffalo, ny United States 08-27-13
    Karen M. Downes buffalo, ny United States 08-27-13 Member Since 2017

    karen downes

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "BOOORING"

    I read and listen to a lot of books but I rarely write reviews because taste is so subjective. I like narrater Cassandra Campbell but not for this novel. I picture a harder charactor with a harsher attitude. It comes off as a Hallmark movie of the week and I think it was meant to be deeper. More like Sundance Channel after hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meghan United States 08-22-13
    Meghan United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2017

    Say something about yourself!

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    "I wanted to shake the woman upstairs"

    Oh my gosh... book was good, but I wanted to shake her. She just just never took control of her own happiness. If it happened to her, she was grateful, but she missed out on so much because she wouldn't go for what she wanted. And honestly, I'm not sure what she wanted. The point of the story was that she didn't KNOW what she wanted. I get that - I suffer from it - but it was frustrating to listen to it.

    You know how you can look at other people's lives and think, "I know what you need... you should do x...", but you don't know what you need for your own life? That's this book in a nutshell.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilinca Romania 05-31-13
    Ilinca Romania 05-31-13 Member Since 2017
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    "not sure it's going anywhere..."

    I may be impatient and superficial, but I just don't get this book. It's not that it's bad - it's just not going anywhere. Halfway through it, I've decided to put it aside and not bother unless there's nothing else to read. I understand it's a story about frustration and anger, but it falls short of almost every mark. It's too narrow in its focus - we don't know (almost) anything about her life outside her obsession, though life and affections exist on the fringes of obsession in every case. And I'm tired of the cliches on academics and the rarefied world they inhabit - and I'm also very suspicious of her reading of foreignness, which I find superficial and downright silly at times.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leigh Mount Pleasant, SC United States 05-07-13
    Leigh Mount Pleasant, SC United States 05-07-13

    There is nothing better than a good book!

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    "Absolutely AMAZING!"

    I LOVE this! Twisted, dark, honest, and so intimate. This is a must have! The end will shock you...

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Port Townsend, WA. United States 05-24-13
    Diane Port Townsend, WA. United States 05-24-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Study is simpering self absorbtion"

    Don't waste your credit. Cassandra Campbell is an excellent reader. She gives wonderful voice to the characters. The story itself is more than disappointing. Nora is unlikeable and vacuous. I kept waiting for something to give some point and meaning to the story but like the rest of the book, the ending was pointless and disappointing.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karla 06-06-13
    Karla 06-06-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Two-Page Sample is great, and then it's downhill!"
    What would have made The Woman Upstairs better?

    This novel, like the main male character in the work, needs to be less a talker. Lots of meaningless, seemingly endless chatter, or so it seems. A few lovely sentences but not enough to sustain all the noise.


    Has The Woman Upstairs turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I loved Messud's THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN and would still recommend that.


    What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

    She captures most of the characters really well and performs a range of accents and age groups. She does least well with the main character, who is from New England--a slight Southern accent peeks through.


    Any additional comments?

    Skip this book and read the first one if you haven't.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victor 03-03-17
    Victor 03-03-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Good, but overhyped book"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the book, found it tedious at times. Overall, though, I would recommend it.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I thought she took the higher literary road in they way she ended it. However, there was a part of me that wanted a more commercially appealing ending.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Cassandra Campbell?

    Depends, she is not effective with mens voices and most accents. However she was not bad as the French woman. Overall, her style is too teacherly and emotionless. At times, she sounds like Krista Tippett from NPR.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    If this was made into a movie, I have a feeling the producer would want a more sensational ending--in that case I would go.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Ifland Cincinnati, Ohio 10-01-16
    Joan Ifland Cincinnati, Ohio 10-01-16 Member Since 2015

    I am a Doctor of Nutrition in the field of addictive nutrition. I teach people how to withdraw from addictive foods and build new lives.

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    "Betrayal Defined"

    This is a book of complex themes that don't fully emerge until the last few pages. It is a book about self-imposed limitations and how those limitations can lead us into foolishness. But the author ultimately folds the limitations in on themselves until they become a way to break through. This is a fascinating book, beautifully constructed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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