Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this New York Times bestselling novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed. The Woman Upstairs. By Tracie Padal. Information for book group leaders. The section of this guide for book group members provides background information. In The Woman Upstairs, Nora Eldridge, a middle-aged elementary school teacher, confesses her profound rage in a three-part story. The novel opens with .

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PDF | Messud's The Woman Upstairs as a post-9/11 craft makes use of transnational characters to emphasize the hidden bigotry and hypocrisy. Editorial Reviews. Review. An site Best Book of the Month, May If this ferocious novel were to have a subtitle, it would be: No More Ms. The Woman Upstairs book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. From the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor's.

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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 Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, long ago compromised her dream to be a successful artist, mother and lover.

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. 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. Burst[ing] with rage and desire.


Destined to become a cultural benchmark. Messud is adept at evoking complex psychological territory.

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She is interested in the identities that women construct for themselves, and in the maddening chasm that often divides intensity of aspiration from reality of achievement. After the final powerful paragraphs, in which Nora howls in galvanized fury, throw it down and have a drink, or a dreamless nap. Think of [Nora] as the woman who leans out: It asks unsettling, unanswerable questions.

Her heroines. Exquisitely rendered. Nora does not become monstrous or pathological or even absurd.

This, in a way, is her tragedy. What the novel does, in spades, is give a voiceless woman a chance to howl. Read An Excerpt.

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What do I mean? I mean the second graders at Appleton Elementary, sometimes the first graders even, and by the time they get to my classroom, to the third grade, they're well and truly gone — they're full of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and French manicures and cute outfits and they care how their hair looks!

In the third grade. They care more about their hair or their shoes than about galaxies or caterpillars or hieroglyphics.


How did all that revolutionary talk of the seventies land us in a place where being female means playing dumb and looking good? Even worse on your tombstone than "dutiful daughter" is "looked good"; everyone used to know that.

But we're lost in a world of appearances now. That's why I'm so angry, really — not because of all the chores and all the making nice and all the duty of being a woman — or rather, of being me — because maybe these are the burdens of being human. Really I'm angry because I've tried so hard to get out of the hall of mirrors, this sham and pretend of the world, or of my world, on the East Coast of the United States of America in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

And behind every mirror is another fucking mirror, and down every corridor is another corridor, and the Fun House isn't fun anymore and it isn't even funny, but there doesn't seem to be a door marked EXIT. At the fair each summer when I was a kid, we visited the Fun House, with its creepy grinning plaster face, two stories high.

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You walked in through its mouth, between its giant teeth, along its hot-pink tongue. Just from that face, you should've known. It was supposed to be a lark, but it was terrifying.

The floors buckled or they lurched from side to side, and the walls were crooked, and the rooms were painted to confuse perspective. Lights flashed, horns blared, in the narrow, vibrating hallways lined with fattening mirrors and elongating mirrors and inside-out upside-down mirrors.

Sometimes the ceiling fell or the floor rose, or both happened at once and I thought I'd be squashed like a bug. The Fun House was scarier by far than the Haunted House, not least because I was supposed to enjoy it.Beautiful Womans. Once Nora is well lost in love, the author takes us steadily, suspensefully, heartbreakingly toward a jolting conclusion [and] a breathtaking act of betrayal.

The Woman Upstairs

She promptly recruits Nora. The Emperor's Children site Edition.

Yet even as she describes the emotional circles of her obsession, Nora does not become monstrous or pathological or even like Dostoevsky's Underground Man absurd.

Indeed, the Book Description provided by site is so anemic and gives no indication of the gifts this book portends, that I passed it up several times. April 30, Sold by: Manhattan Beach: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

The Madwoman Upstairs:

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