Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

"You think you know how a story begins, or how its going to turn out, especially when it's your own. You don't."

How did she end up here? Lady Daniels has been pretty independent for her entire adult life. Years ago, her lover left her to raise their son Seth. Beyond the fact that she had no money and a mother who would rather judge her than help, Lady had the added challenge of raising a child who could not speak. All the doctors and specialists reached the same conclusion about Seth. There is no medical explanation for him being mute. Understandably this leaves Lady guilt ridden and having more questions than answers.

Years later, Lady is facing a different kind of crisis. Her husband Karl has moved out and left Lady to raise their young son Devin while still worrying about teenager Seth. She has also been commissioned to write a book about her journey as a mother facing her son's disability. Time constraints of motherhood aside, Lady is having a hard time writing this book. It is forcing her to recall a painful period of time and uproot memories that were long laid to rest. Even worse, Seth is beginning to question his past. Who is his dad? Why did he leave? Is a reunion in the cards?

Enter the elusive "S".  Born Esther Shapiro, the twenty-something art student has taken on a new identity. She's running from a failed art project and disastrous relationship and looking for a fresh start. Not only has she found her next great work of art, but she's also found a way to remove herself from her previous life. For her latest masterpiece, S has assumed the role of her tragic alcoholic mother. She dresses like mom, drinks herself into blackouts, and ignores the people and relationships around her. The best part of all of this, S has convinced Lady that she is the perfect person to be a live in nanny for little Devin. What could possibly go wrong?!

Edan Lepucki follows her hit novel California, with the masterful character study Woman No. 17. Chapters shift between the point of view of Lady and S, highlighting their time together as each woman navigates the challenges of their lives. The two contrast each other in a commentary on the way people change as they age. Lepucki manages to create well developed and engaging characters, even when the women act in less than sympathetic ways. The novel ends up being a thoughtful exploration of motherhood, art, disability, and the way we navigate the difficulties of everyday life. Woman No. 17 is a brilliant blend of reflective observation and captivating drama that makes it an excellent read.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2017, 20)

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11 Responses to “Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki”

  1. That sounds fascinating. Almost kind of meta, which I love!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review

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    1. It is definitely one of the most unique books I've read this year. Days later I'm still discovering new layers to the story.

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  2. Woman No. 17 sounds good, I know I've seen this one somewhere before, probably online. Great review.

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    1. Her previous novel was very well received, so there has been a lot of buzz about this one.

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  3. O remember all the hoopla over California. I'm looking forward to this new one as well.

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    1. I must have been under a rock during that time! This one is definitely worthy of the praise though!

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  4. I have seen this book around a little, so this made me very curious about trying this one out! I am so glad to see that the opposite of the two characters worked very well for the story.

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  5. This really looks good. Interesting book.

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  6. Thanks for the review and giveaway

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