Thursday, May 25, 2017
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
It seems like a normal encounter played out over and over. Lady Daniels is an aspiring writer, living in Southern California. She wants to hire a nanny to watch her two year old son while she writes. She is newly separated from her husband and determined to have success in this new arena. S is a recently graduated college student who is looking for a live-in nanny job for a while until she decides what to do. They quickly come to an agreement and S moves into the guest house.
But below the normal surface, each woman has secrets to hide. Lady has never resolved her feelings about her older son. Seth is eighteen and is mute. He spoke one word as a toddler then never again tried and over the years lost the ability to do so. He is now an angry teen, still attached to his stepfather who has moved out at Lady's request and trying to define his own life. Lady is also trying to find her first love, Seth's father. She tells herself it is to find him closure but it is unsure if that is the truth.
S also has her own secrets. She has come to Los Angeles after a disastrous art project left her scorned in her prior city. Her real name is Esther but she is determined to cast off all ties to her past and reinvent herself. She comes to Lady's house in the midst of another art plan; she has deliberately made herself unattractive as she slips into an alternate persona. She is intrigued with Seth and they are drawn together. But even more, she is drawn to Lady when she realizes that Lady is one of a group of women made famous by the art of Kit Daniels. Lady hides the evidence of her former self as she feels taken advantage of by Kit, who has ended up being her sister-in-law.
As the summer progresses, the two women are drawn to each other and soon have a friendship that brings them ever closer. But a friendship cannot survive on deceit and lies and that is what each is feeding the other. The summer starts to spiral out of control to a climatic end that will change everything in everyone's lives going forward.
Edan Lepucki shot to prominence in the literary world with the publication of her debut novel, California. Her work has appeared in various magazines and she is an instructor in the UCLA Extension program. This is her second novel and it explores the worlds of friendship and of duplicity and the corrosive effect of secrets on relationships. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.