Woman No. 17
Book Review - Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
I'm doing something a little different with this review. Each day I read part of this book, I will record how much I read and my thoughts on the book at that point. I hope you enjoy!
Day 1 - Chapter 1-17
I just started the book today, its a Sunday and my husband spent most of the day golfing with a friend of his so I curled up in bed with my dog, Huxley, and read quite a bit of this book for one sitting! The book is written from the perspective of two women Lady and S (short for Esther.) Lady is a mom of two living in a wealthy neighborhood in Hollywood Hills. She has recently asked for a trial separation from her husband (the father of her youngest child, Devin, age 1 or 2.) Lady hires S as a live-in nanny for Devin while she is working on writing a book.
The story skips around quite a bit in time, with only a new paragraph to indicate a change in time or subject. Stories are told as if they just popped into the subject's head without regard to chronological sequence and only loose strings attaching them to one another. I'm getting weird vibes from almost all of the characters, they each have somewhat dark/unhappy back stories and I'm not yet sure of their significance or how they are all going to come together. I'm curious about the story, but it isn't so enthralling that I just can't put it down.
Day 2 - Chapter 18-30
I read quite a bit less today than I did yesterday - but boy are things escalating! Yesterday I mentioned that Lady had two children, her youngest is Devin and her oldest (aged 18) is Seth. Seth is mute, we aren't exactly sure why, but he isn't deaf and he isn't autistic. He doesn't seem to have a medical reason for being mute but he never started speaking as a child. I'm sure more on this will develop. S is an artist and she is in the midst of a rather odd art project - I don't want to give too much away about this...but Lady doesn't know about the art project and S's professional life (working as a nanny for Lady) and her personal life (the art project) eventually merge.
There is also something strange developing between S and Seth. I really don't want to give too much away so I'm just going to quote the amazon book description, "S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn." This occurs at the end of Chapter 30, which of course was my cut-off today. I really want to keep reading but I also want to stop for a moment and let what has happened settle in my mind before picking it back up tomorrow. There is something to be said about giving time to a book and not finishing it too quickly.
Day 3 - Chapter 31-45
All of the relationships between the main characters are developing in (and I'm pausing here to come up with the best word...) uncomfortable ways. Most of the relationships are inappropriate. Whether it is between employer and employee; adult and kid; mother and child; ex spouses. There are only a few relationships that seem stable to me: the relationship between Lady and her current husband (although they are on a trial separation) and the relationship between S and her dad.
This section seemed mostly a development section. The first section was sort of setting up the story, the second had tremendous revelations in the story line, this third section is developing those story lines. I'm left wondering, "Okay, where is this going? How is this going to end? Is there any way this ends well?" Tomorrow I'm finishing the book and I'm anxious thinking about how this story will end.
Day 4 - Chapter 46-End
Hmmm...so I just finished the book this morning. I'm kinda conflicted on the ending. As much as the plot felt like it was building to this fireworks show, I felt like many of the story lines just fizzled out. There were almost no repercussions for all the wrongdoings and some story lines were left completely unresolved. It seems to me like everyone was behaving badly and when they were caught they just all went their separate ways and it was all okay.
On the other hand, I think this would be an incredibly interesting book to discuss in a book club. I imagine my friends would have different opinions about each of the characters. Who did the most wrong? What did so-and-so's actions mean? Was that character a psychopath or just weird? So although I can't say I liked the ending, I do think it would create lively conversations over a bottle of wine (or French 75s as Lady and S enjoyed!)
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