Author previews: Author Claire Messud’s latest might be most peculiar tale yet

By
From the February 27, 2014 edition

The Thurber House’s Evening with Authors series brings New York Times best-selling novelist Claire Messud to Columbus for a reading from her latest novel. Messud is best known for “The Last Life” and “The Emperor’s Children,” but her latest work may be her most intriguing and peculiar tale yet.

Constructing the dual foundation of psychological suspense and literary allusion, Messud’s “The Woman Upstairs” tells the story of Nora Eldridge, a very angry woman working as a school teacher. Nora is unhappy with her perfunctory life as the good girl who always did what she was supposed to.

Once a new student enters her life, Nora begins to fantasize that she is the boy’s mother (an emerging artist like Nora always wanted to be) and is living the good life with the perfect husband and child. Though Nora has realized her idealized life through this fantasy, a happy ending is impossible for her.

Photo credit: Lisa Cohen