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Publisher's Summary

Two imposing literary figures are at the center of this captivating novel: Shirley Jackson, best known for her short story "The Lottery," and her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic and professor at Bennington College. When a young graduate student and his pregnant wife, Fred and Rose Nemser, move into Shirley and Stanley's home in the fall of 1964, they are quickly cast under the magnetic spell of their brilliant hosts.

While Fred becomes preoccupied with his teaching schedule, Rose forms an unlikely, turbulent friendship with the troubled and unpredictable Shirley. Fascinated by the Hyman's volatile marriage and inexplicable drawn to the darkly enigmatic author, Rose nevertheless senses something amiss - something to do with nightly unanswered phone calls and inscrutable accounts of a long-missing female student.

©2014 Susan Scarf Merrell (P)2014 Dreamscape Media, LLC

Critic Reviews

"To the great literature of obsession we can now add Susan Scarf Merrell's brilliant and captivating Shirley, a novel as full of passion and intrigue as any traditional love story. The twist is that the obsessive in these pages is a quiet young academic wife and the object of her fascination is none other than gothic storyteller Shirley Jackson. A fantastically original book." (Ann Packer, author of Swim Back to Me and The Dive from Clausen's Pier)
"Susan Scarf Merrell writes about desire, female friendship, and obsession with a true storyteller's sense of the human heart... Shirley is a love story that will keep you up all night." (Susan Cheever, author of e.e. cummings, a life)

What listeners say about Shirley

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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How?

A major set piece of this story is the violation and co-opting of Shirley Jackson's work and voice by an inane fangirl. It is astonishing that the author had so little self awareness as not to understand that's all she was doing, on a meta scale, in writing this entire thing. It just compounds the many other insults of this book to a baffling degree.

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The book that couldn't...

Such a talented writer and beautifully narrated, but...it never lives up to its promise. By the time I got to Chapter 13, I willed a conclusion. I was bored with the lack of a plot. It plodded. Rose the protagonist becomes increasingly annoying. For me this book with a good editor could have been a real winner. A big miss.