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The Woman Upstairs 

Claire Messud (Knopf)

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“How angry am I? You don’t want to know.” This is Nora Eldridge, a middle-aged third grade teacher, artist and eponymous Woman Upstairs. “It’s important, when you’re the Woman Upstairs, never to think of yourself–but never, do you understand–as alone or forlorn or, God help us, wanting.” Nora is content with her life, is happy dedicating her time to the service of others–that is until she meets the glamourous and mysterious Shahid family who has just moved to Boston from Paris and whose son joins Nora’s class. When Sirena Shahid, a respected installation artist, invites Nora to share her studio space, their worlds become deeply intertwined with very surprising results. Messud is a master at creating suspense where there is very little action. The Woman Upstairs is a brilliant exploration of the inner life of a woman who is not at all what she seems on the surface.
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Vol 25, No 33
January 18, 2018

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