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December Book Discussion

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud

A 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.

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  • Ana

    I'm looking forward to re-reading a Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I know that I have a paperback somewhere at home but in the meanwhile I looked into Amazon and they have it for $1.99. Now I have it on my Kindle.

    December 13, 2013

    • Susan R.

      Sounds like you need to attend another book swap, Ana, to clean out those shelves!!

      December 13, 2013

  • Carmela C.

    I enjoyed the book and the discussion. It was good to see so many people attend. Very enjoyable and relaxing evening. Thank you.

    1 · December 10, 2013

  • Susan R.

    The book was very provocative, and the topics, it seemed, inexhaustible. I enjoyed the evening immensely.

    December 10, 2013

  • Mary Lou A.

    That's so funny, Susan, I felt the same way. That was exactly how I was feeling when I read the first page. Must have been a sign!!!

    1 · November 20, 2013

  • Susan R.

    Oh my God, opening page. It's great. I'm hooked. I hope I feel this way by the end of Part I.

    November 19, 2013

  • Ana

    Have to get the book -- looks like a good one. I'm looking forward to seeing all you wonderful readers.

    November 19, 2013

    • Susan R.

      I picked it up at the library today. I'm anxious to start it. We missed you, Ana! It'll be good to see you again.

      November 19, 2013

  • Denise

    Is this the book voted on. It sounds interesting

    November 13, 2013

    • Susan R.

      Yes. It won the poll by 1 vote. Second place was a tie, so we'll have a chance to review them both during January, 1 during our regularly scheduled meetup, and the other at the 2nd monthly reading.

      November 13, 2013

  • Mary b.

    I'll be there. This is a terrific book.

    November 12, 2013

    • Susan R.

      Mary, I don't see your RSVP.

      November 12, 2013

  • Denise

    I can't wait to bea part of the club. See you on the 9th

    November 11, 2013

    • Susan R.

      We look forward to meeting you, Denise. I just announced the title for December's selection.

      November 12, 2013

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