The focus of this story is an unnamed woman who is a married college professor teaching poetry and attempting to get pregnant. When her exhaustive attempts to have a child are unsuccessful, we watch her descent into something akin to madness as her life fails to live up to the vision she had for herself. When a renowned actress moves into her neighborhood, she begins to fixate on her as the ideal for her own life.
The main character and the actress were never named in this story and there is symbolism in that decision. As our unnamed narrator’s life starts to fall apart (neighbors appear to ostracize her for being childless, her husband leaves her, her job seems to dead end), her own inner voice is more destructive than anything else that happens to her. Focusing on the actress seems to give her an alternate identity in which to measure herself, moment to moment. It was painful to experience and the audiobook narrator heightened those feelings because of her stellar performance. She was amazingly effective. There were times I just wanted the story to end but also wanted to continue to see how this journey ended, no matter that I really knew that answer.
This is a provocative, compelling story that’s difficult and disturbing but one I found myself using for self reflection and awareness. How many times have we looked at those who are famous and used them as a measure of our own lives, especially when we’re disappointed with our outlooks? And, our own critical voices can often be more devastating than anything anyone else can say. The next time I want to beat up on myself or idolize someone I really don’t know, I’ll remember this story.
- Release Date: January 8, 2019
- Narrator: Katherine Fenton
- Audio Length: 5 hours, 32 minutes
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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(I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review)