ebook The Woman Upstairs
read doc Ð The Woman Upstairs º Paperback Ò ❴Epub❵ ➝ The Woman Upstairs Author Claire Messud – Gym-apparel.co.uk A New York Times Book Review Notable Book • A Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book • A Huffington Post Best Book • A Boston Globe Best BHer beyond her boundaries until Sirena’s careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal Told with urgency intimacy and piercing emotion this New York Times bestselling novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened transformed and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own Nora Eldridge is a primary school teacher who at forty two has sacrificed her dream to become an artist to live in the numbing comfort of economic stability and independence a woman who perfectly fits the role attached to her gender dutiful daughter involved professional reliable friend model citizenBut she is also the woman upstairs the person everybody forgets the moment she turns around the corner the agreeable teacher who dotes on her students because she doesn’t have children of her own the middle aged woman who is content in her resigned singleness But deep down underneath the artificial mask of clownish kindness she is boiling with anger for her mundane life humiliated by the way people take her for granted indignant at the way life has cheated on her And so when the Sahids enter her suffocating dull world she seizes them as a drowning man will clutch a straw and pretends to become a surrogate wife mother and artist to the oblivious family crossing the line of the morally dubious showing her ugly side without subterfuge and baring her dark soul to the reader unashamedlyI was cheering for Nora and for Messud in the first pages of this psychological roller coaster for the subversive undertone that mines Messud’s straightforward voice basking in their protest against the sexist role assigned to women in literature as in many other aspects of our culture and was ready to empathize with this unconventional maybe even despicable heroine I respect what Messud was trying to achieve when she gave life to this modern “Miss Brodie” Female protagonists have been simplified or overlooked for years while their male counterparts were thoroughly delineated in all their vibrant complexities and inconsistencies provided with articulated expression to vouch for their unethical actions Nora was created to break the mold to expose her selfish needs her middle class uandaries to disgust readers by the way she grovels in self pity Nora was supposed to become eual to any other flawed human being regardless of class or gender to rise above convention and speak for the many women who live trapped in their circumstancesLeaving style aside which I think is rather unimpressive in delivery my main concern is that as I approached the end of Nora’s confession I felt she was measured by the very same standards she was trying to rebel against restricting her to a limited form of expression that belittled her in the eyes of others Her rage has no conseuence and is born in silence Art or no art dreams or no dreams I expected greater things from Nora’s anger I expected a grand finale an outrageous outcome and I merely got a feeble implosion of a woman realizing she has lived a lie imposed by her inflated delusions of grandeur No need to go upstairs women like Nora abound everywhere
Claire Messud ¶ The Woman Upstairs pdf
But unremarkable friend and neighbor always on the fringe of other people’s achievements But the arrival of the Shahid family dashing Skandar a Lebanese scholar glamorous Sirena an Italian artist and their son Reza draws her into a complex and exciting new world Nora’s happiness pushes Did I find this book or did this book find me?Either way this novel was so powerful and jarring that it jumbled my thoughts and disrupted my sleep The story is focused on the anger and anxiety — hell let's just call it a mid life crisis blended with some good ol' feminist rage — of Nora Eldridge a single woman who teaches elementary school in Cambridge Massachusetts and who wishes she had time to be an artist One day she meets a boy named Reza and she becomes so attached to him and his parents that she feels like she's falling in love with the family Sirena the boy's mother is also an artist and the two women share an art studio for the year Skandar the boy's father is a visiting scholar at Harvard and Nora enjoys long discussions with him Reza is a charming little boy and Nora enjoys babysitting him when his parents are busyWhen we meet Nora she admits she is very angry but it's not clear what caused it At first I thought it was being single and childless being undervalued as a woman in a patriarchal society being forced to be a school teacher when she really wanted to create art etc It is all of those things but there is We don't fully understand the reasons for her anger until the end of the book which brought a surprising conclusion to the storyI could relate to Nora's dreams and fears and anxieties and anger and I saw shades of women I know in her She was very real very well drawn Nora calls herself the Woman Upstairs because she feels invisible she feels like a good girl who is overlooked and taken for granted Nora felt connected to the world when she was sharing part of her life with Sirena and Reza and Skandar Early on we sense the relationship was temporary because she called it the year with Sirena so at some point she is abandoned and alone againMy only criticisms of the book were the references to real world events Most of the story takes place in 2004 and I found those newsy intrusions annoying Also Reza was described as so cherubic and sweet that it was unbelievable In the book the women were realized characters than the men and boys and I never really understood Skandar But overall this book is well written and a compelling story and I would highly recommend itUpdate After Book ClubWe had a great discussion about this novel during Book Club and I was relieved that I wasn't the only one who reacted so strongly and personally to Nora's story Several women said reading this book was like holding up a mirror I am adding this caveat that Nora's attitude and writing were intense and one of my friends was so disturbed by the book that she couldn't finish it So this is my warning that this novel is not a carefree readAmazing Opening PassageHow angry am I? You don't want to know Nobody wants to know about that I'm a good girl I'm a nice girl I'm a straight A strait laced good daughter good career girl and I never stole anybody's boyfriend and I never ran out on a girlfriend and I put up with my parents' shit and my brother's shit and I'm not a girl anyhow I'm over forty fucking years old and I'm good at my job and I'm great with kids and I held my mother's hand when she died after four years of holding her hand while she was dying and I speak to my father every day on the telephone every day mind you and what kind of weather do you have on your side of the river because here it's pretty gray and a bit muggy too? It was supposed to stay Great Artist on my tombstone but if I died right now it would say such a good teacherdaughterfriend instead and what I really want to shout and want in big letters on that grave too is FUCK YOU ALL Don't all women feel the same? The only difference is how much we know we feel it how in touch we are with our fury We're all furies except the ones who are too damned foolish and my worry now is that we're brainwashing them from the cradle and in the end even the ones who are smart will be too damned foolish What do I mean? I mean the second graders at Appleton Elementary sometimes the first graders even and by the time they get to my classroom to the third grade they're well and truly gone they're full of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and French manicures and cute outfits and they care how their hair looks In the third grade They care about their hair or their shoes than about galaxies or caterpillars or hieroglyphics How did all that revolutionary talk of the seventies land us in a place where being female means playing dumb and looking good? Even worse on your tombstone than dutiful daughter is looked good; everyone used to know that But we're lost in a world of appearances now Favorite uotesI always understood that the great dilemma of my mother's life had been to glimpse freedom too late at too high a price She was of the generation for which the rules changed halfway born into a world of pressed linens and three course dinners and hairsprayed updos in which women were educated and then deployed for domestic purposes — rather like using an elaborately embroidered tablecloth on which to serve messy children their breakfastI always thought I'd get farther I'd like to blame the world for what I've failed to do but the failure — the failure that sometimes washes over me as anger makes me so angry I could spit — is all mine in the end What made my obstacles insurmountable what consigned me to mediocrity is me just me I thought for so long forever that I was strong enough — or I misunderstood what strength was I thought I could get to greatness to my greatness by plugging on cleaning up each mess as it came the way you're taught to eat your greens before you have dessert But it turns out that's a rule for girls and sissies because the mountain of greens is of Everest proportions and the bowl of ice cream at the far end of the table is melting a little with each passing second There will be ants on it soon And then they'll come and clear it away altogether The hubris of it thinking I could be a decent human being and a valuable member of family and society and still create Absurd How strong did I think I was?When you're the Woman Upstairs nobody thinks of you first Nobody calls you before anyone else or sends you the first postcard Once your mother dies nobody loves you best of allYou know those moments at school or college when suddenly the cosmos seems like one vast plan after all patterned in such a way that the novel you're reading at bedtime connects to your astronomy lecture connects to what you heard on NPR connects to what your friend discusses in the cafeteria at lunch — and then briefly it's as if the lid has come off the world as if the world were a dollhouse and you can glimpse what it would be like to see it whole from above — a vertiginous magnificence And then the lid falls and you fall and the reign of the ordinary resumesWhat does it mean that the first thing every American child knows about Germany is Hitler? What if the first thing you knew was something else? And maybe some people would say that now it's important after the Second World War it's ethical and vital that Hitler is the first thing a child knows But someone else can argue the opposite And what would it do how would it change things if nobody were allowed to know anything about Hitler about the war about any of it until first they learned about Brahms Beethoven and Bach about Hegel and Lessing and Fichte about Schopenhauer about Rilke one of those things you had to know and appreciate because you learned about the NazisThe Woman Upstairs is like that We keep it together You don't make a mess and you don't make mistakes and you don't call people weeping at four in the morning You don't reveal secrets it would be unseemly for you to have You turn forty and you laugh about it and make jokes about needing martinis and how forty is the new thirty and you don't say aloud and nobody else says aloud what all of you are thinking which is 'Well I guess she's never going to have kids now'
ebook ì The Woman Upstairs ¶ Claire Messud
The Woman UpstairsA New York Times Book Review Notable Book • A Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year • A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book • A Huffington Post Best Book • A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year • A Kirkus Best Fiction Book • A Goodreads Best BookNora Eldridge is a reliable If you're interested in a book with unlikeable unreliable characters hints of possible drama obsession and betrayal melancholy and whining endless run on narrative from the main character a plot that bogs down completely and a rushed ending then have I got the book for you I decided to read The Woman Upstairs after hearing an interview with Claire Messud on NPR; the book was touted as a saga of anger and thwarted ambition While there was plenty of anger I couldn't find the ambition part Unmarried childless elementary school teacher Nora Eldridge thinks “It was supposed to say ‘Great Artist’ on my tombstone but if I died right now it would say ‘such a good teacherdaughterfriend’ instead” She becomes infatuated with the whole Shahid family and because of this association she resumes some of her own artistic endeavors only to let them get crowded out due to her obsession There is a possibility that I didn't 'get' this book because I'm not terribly sophisticated and don't understand 'Great Artists' but it seems to me that adjusting our aspirations is something every single one of us has to deal with as we grow older I hope I'm dealing with it in a mature productive and reasonable way than the deluded and angry Nora