THE GODDESSES by Swan Huntley


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Huntley’s (We Could Be Beautiful, 2016) second domestic thriller turns its attention to an all-consuming friendship between two middle-aged women—one of whom may not be exactly who she seems.

Newly settled in Kona, Hawaii—part of a last-ditch attempt to save her flailing marriage—Nancy Murphy is desperate to reinvent herself into a new person, an exciting person whose husband did not cheat on her with his assistant manager from Costco. That means uncharacteristically dragging herself to yoga class. “I’d read online that yoga had transformed many peoples’ lives, and I needed a transformation,” Nancy says. She finds it through Ana, a woman so at peace she's a parody of a yoga teacher, and instantly falls under her charismatic spell. Free, unencumbered by children or marriage, spontaneous and spiritual and girlishly fun, Ana is everything Nancy isn’t. And yet they recognize each other as kindred spirits—and soon the two fall into an easy intimacy, soaking in Ana’s hot tub, browsing used bookstores, and eating at hippie health food buffets, circling the island distributing sandwiches to homeless people so they might “create space for better destinies.” With Ana, Nancy has an escape from her old self. “I’m going to call you Nan from now on,” Ana informs her. “Don’t you see how the letters of our names match up perfectly? Nan and Ana! Yin and yang!” But as Nancy becomes ever more absorbed by their friendship, Ana becomes more demanding, dangerously threatening the very foundations of Nancy’s world. As in her first book, Huntley is a keen social observer, empathetic and biting at once. And while the plot itself is somewhat predictable—a familiar cloud hangs over the friendship from the start—the plot is hardly the point. Instead, it serves as necessary scaffolding, a vehicle for Huntley’s gripping psychological portrait of a woman at a personal crossroads.

A haunting story of betrayal and forgiveness that packs an unexpectedly emotional punch.

Pub Date: July 25th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-385-54221-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2017

Kirkus Interview
Swan Huntley
June 27, 2016

In Swan Huntley’s debut novel We Could Be Beautiful, Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine's parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . “ Is William lying about his past? “Huntley’s debut stands out not for its thrills but rather for her hawkish eye for social detail and razor-sharp wit,” our reviewer writes. “An intoxicating escape; as smart as it is fun.” View video >


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