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A moving portrayal of intense female friendship, identity, and loss.

This previously unpublished novel by towering French existentialist intellectual and feminist icon Beauvoir, written in 1954, is based on her deeply formative relationship with a classmate.

"When I was nine, I was a very good girl." So begins the story of Sylvie Lepage's friendship with vivacious Andrée Gallard. They meet at school, vie for top honors, and become inseparable. Sylvie adores Andrée, the second of seven siblings in a family old, distinguished, and militantly Catholic. Her father chairs the League of Fathers of Large Families. As the girls grow older, the expectations and obligations heaped on Andrée become increasingly onerous, crushing her spirit and threatening her health. Sylvie loses her faith, whereas pious Andrée despairs of pleasing God and comes to fear her own capacity for passion. Bright, sensitive, musical, and artistic, Andrée struggles to be the dutiful daughter her family, church, and society demand. "Behind her, she had this past; around her, this large house, this enormous family: a prison, whose exits were carefully guarded." Sylvie, meeting her friend for coffee, thinks: "All around me, women wearing perfume ate cakes and talked about the cost of living. Since the day she was born, Andrée was destined to be like them: but she wasn’t." A lively introduction by Margaret Atwood gives the history of Beauvoir's friendship with Zaza Lacoin, the Andrée of the story, describing it as "a wellspring" for everything Beauvoir subsequently wrote. The book's dedication to Zaza asks: If I have tears in my eyes tonight, is it because you have died, or rather because I’m the one who is still alive? In a letter to Simone, included in the afterword, Zaza wrote: "There is nothing sweeter in the world than feeling there is someone who can completely understand you." The tragedy of Zaza's death at 21 haunted Beauvoir, yet when she showed the manuscript of this novel to Jean-Paul Sartre, he dismissed it as trivial. It is, after all, only about two young women. As Atwood says, "Mr. 'Hell is other people' Sartre was wrong." It is heartbreaking to think of the author, with her brilliant, incisive mind, absorbing Sartre's casual misogyny the way the tragic heroine of this book absorbs the narrow-minded values that destroy her.

A moving portrayal of intense female friendship, identity, and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307504-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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