I think the best compliment I can give this book, or perhaps any book, is that I felt more alive when I was reading it. Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki crackles with life, lust, dark wit, dangerous art, and its energy is contagious. When I was reading this book, I wanted to write and drink cocktails and dance in the moonlight. Woman No. 17 is certainly not light and happy, but it sure as hell is alive.
After her ill-defined separation from her husband, Lady Daniels suddenly has more on her hands than she can handle: a teenage son with selective mutism, a gregarious toddler, and a book deadline fast approaching. So Lady hires S, a recent college grad, as a live-in nanny to help. S is magnetic and has an easy confidence that attracts both Lady and her eighteen-year-old son, Seth.
But S’s relationships with both mother and son are not as simple as they seem. On top of being a nanny, S is an artist in the midst of a performative piece, portraying her own irresistible, irresponsible mother. When the line between herself and her mother begins to blur and S becomes more and more volatile, her relationships with Lady and Seth begin to spiral downward and it feels like all the characters are running toward an on-coming train.
An unsettling and dark exploration of motherhood and daughterhood, reality and pretend, Woman No. 17 is the perfect book to welcome the changing colors and cooling air of winter.
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