The Woman Upstairs
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From the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children, a masterly new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own.
Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, long ago compromised her dream to be a successful artist, mother and lover. She has instead become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Then into her life arrives the glamorous and cosmopolitan Shahids—her new student Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale, and his parents: Skandar, a dashing Lebanese professor who has come to Boston for a fellowship at Harvard, and Sirena, an effortlessly alluring Italian artist.
When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies, Nora is drawn deep 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, and she discovers in herself an unprecedented ferocity—one that puts her beliefs and her sense of self at stake.
Told with urgency, intimacy and piercing emotion, this brilliant novel of passion and artistic fulfillment explores the intensity, thrill—and the devastating cost—of embracing an authentic life.
This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
This acclaimed novel has generated a great deal of buzz this month, including an appearance by Ms. Messud on NPR. Though I enjoyed her prose and some clever passages, the impact of the novel does not occur until the last few pages. The twist generated some interesting thought afterwards, but felt predictable. It's an interesting novel, but reading it once was enough for me.
The story is an interesting fit for a short novel with a twist. The author however did not explore the action to sustain the rich inner life of her heroine out of just few facts described in the book. the result is that The inner thoughts of the main character are redundant and do not leave much to the reader's imagination. Two thirds into the book she becomes flat, one dimensional. It is a sad and boring story. Reading it is like siting down for coffee with a good friend who always complains about her life and never once ask you about yours. You read it politely to not offend the main character whose life is really full but she is in clinical depression and refuses to get treatment.
This book, while extremely well written, tells a story that is just plain depressing about a woman who is ultimately betrayed and with no satisfactory sense of justice that occurs. It has been hyped and is overrated in my opinion.