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The Woman Upstairs

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this New York Times bestselling novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed, and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own.

Nora Eldridge is a reliable, but unremarkable, friend and neighbor, always on the fringe of other people’s achievements. But the arrival of the Shahid family—dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar, glamorous Sirena, an Italian artist, and their son, Reza—draws her into a complex and exciting new world. Nora’s happiness pushes her beyond her boundaries, until Sirena’s careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal.

New York Times Book Review Notable Book • A Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book • A Huffington Post Best Book • A Boston GlobeBest Book of the Year • A Kirkus Best Fiction Book • A Goodreads Best Book

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 18, 2013 – The gifted Messud, writing her way through the ages, has now arrived at a woman in her 40s and it s not pretty. Nora Eldridge, a schoolteacher who dreams of being an artist, is angry, cynical, and quietly desperate. Then she meets the Shahid family: Sirena, Skandar, and Reza, a student in Nora s third-grade class at Appleton Elementary in Cambridge, Mass. When Sirena asks Nora to share an artists studio, Nora falls in love with each exotic Shahid in turn: Sirena, for her artistic vision; Skandar, for his intellectual fervor; and Reza, because he s a perfectly beautiful child, bullied at school but magnanimous. In her previous books, Messud (The Emperor s Children) has set individuals against the weight of kin; here is an individual who believes she s found a vigorous self in the orbit of a dangerously charismatic family. But after freeing Nora from herself, the Shahids betray her, Sirena especially, cruelly exploiting a private moment of Nora s newfound joy with an intimate work of art Sirena shows in Paris without Nora s knowledge. As with other Messud characters, these too are hard to love; few would want to know the unpalatable Nora, so full of self-loathing, nor the self-important Shahids.

Customer Reviews


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.

The Woman Upstairs
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Apr 30, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings