Title: Woman No. 17
Author: Edan Lepucki
Genre: Domestic Noir
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Length: 320 pages
Available: 9 May 2017
Source: eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I can’t remember the last time I stayed up all night just to finish a book. It’s not just the world that Lepucki creates inside the Hollywood Hills—this mix of old money meeting new money within the same family–but the characters themselves that made me want to keep reading. This is one of those books where it doesn’t feel like anything is going on besides your usual mother-child relationship strain and marriage strain until suddenly everyone’s intricate web of lies starts to fall apart. And then there’s no way you can put the book down without seeing how everything plays out.
Esther, a vain Berkely Grad whose Yale-bound ex-boyfriend told her she definitely wasn’t an artist, is out to prove him wrong. After a failed attempt to create a splash in her hometown with a guerilla campaign, Esther starts a new project. She moves to Hollywood to live with her mother and now goes by S. Meanwhile, Lady (that’s her actual name) is handling being a newly (again) single mother to her teenage mute son, Seth, and a toddler, Devin, who never stops talking after she kicks her husband out. Lady hires (the now homely) S to be their live-in nanny.
Both women, S and Lady, struggle through understanding who they are in these new roles which inevitably brings them closer together. So close, Lady begins to tell S all of her secrets—secrets that she’s kept hidden from her family, and will do anything to keep it that way.
And S has secrets of her own, like why she took the nanny position in the first place. But her performance art starts to become less of an act the more she drinks and the closer she gets to Lady’s son, Seth.
As we enter beach reading season, Edan Lepucki’s sophomore novel is a must-read. It’s the perfect mix of darkness, comedy, and explorations of motherhood, female friendships, and competition. This book won’t let you put it down.