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My Dark Vanessa  By  cover art

My Dark Vanessa

By: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Narrated by: Grace Gummer
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Publisher's summary

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 DYLAN THOMAS AWARD

An instant New York Times and Sunday Times best seller.

A Stylist Best Book of 2020.

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a 15-year-old girl and her teacher.

All he did was fall in love with me and the world turned him into a monster.

Vanessa Wye was 15 years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now 32 and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn't abuse. It was love. She's sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life - her great sexual awakening - as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.

Includes a bonus conversation with Kate Elizabeth Russell, Grace Gummer, and Jessica Williams (editor of My Dark Vanessa).

©2020 Kate Elizabeth Russell (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"The book everyone will be talking about." (Louise O'Neill)

"...a package of dynamite." (Stephen King)

"Compulsive. I burned through the first half in such a fever that I lost sleep, I missed meals...a lightning rod." (Washington Post)

What listeners say about My Dark Vanessa

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Brilliant but disturbing

This was a really good book, albeit hard to listen to at times. I loved how the main character developed and listening to her inner monologue of trying to justify vs not justify the occurrences in her life. It is so relevant and real that it really touched me on a deep level. While I recommend this book, it is not for sensitive listeners.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A masterful and thought-provoking story.

Everything about this was good. It broke my heart, gave me hope, and brought to life a story that we usually just experience as a headline. Truly powerful.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting But Slow

I wasn’t sure about the authenticity of the 15yr old - seemed too mature to be believable.
I enjoyed the story and I thought it dealt with some really important issues which I was glad to hear more/learn about. I felt the book was really long and could have told the same story in half the words.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

eye-opening drama

enjoyed reading this despite the sometimes heavy storyline and difficult scenes to hear. authentic voice throughout and thought provoking ideas and dialogue

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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So engaging, so heavy, I’ve never listened to a book so fast

The experiences, the flashbacks are all so relatable - specially when she’s recounting her past experiences as she’s become an adult. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered such a compelling book!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dark and gripping

This book was very dark, gripping and believable. I got so caught up in the story I had to remind myself that it isn't real, even though what Vanessa goes through is a very real issue that a lot of woman are struggling with. This book kept me thinking about it long after I finished it. Definitely worth a read.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautifully performed, sad story

It was well written, and really well performed. But the story made me so sad and sick. Which I suppose was the point. Made me want to hold my kids close and never let them go to school or near strangers.

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