April 2015

 

The Woman Upstairs

In April the Literary Circle will be reading, “The Woman Upstairs” by Claire Messud. A masterly new novel from the New York Times best selling author of ‘The Emperor’s Children.’ This is the story of an elementary teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who 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 other acheivements. Then into her life arrive the glamorous, cosmopolitan Shadids-her new student Reza Shadid, 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 Shadid 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 devastating cost of embracing the authentic life.