[ [EBOOK] The Woman Upstairs ] by Claire Messud – freewebdesing.com
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EBOOK The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud – freewebdesing.com
Eel middle aged at all I don t feel young I m not delusional But I still feel like there s a lot of life yet to live so I m probably personalizing this a bit I just feel like framing Nora as a spinster misses the mark And also the very end is so sharp and so breathtaking and I wish the est of the book was as good Middle aged my ass Also it s weird how anger is articulated but arely shown here Anger seems like an idea than an actual emotion Did I find this book or did this book find meEither 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 age 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 eally wanted to create art etc It is all of those things but there is We don t fully understand the easons for her anger until the end of the book which brought a surprising conclusion to the storyI could elate to Nora s dreams and fears and anxieties and anger and I saw shades of women I know in her She was very eal 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 elationship 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 eferences to eal 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 ealized characters than the men and boys and I never eally understood Skandar But overall this book is well written and a compelling story and I would highly ecommend itUpdate After Book ClubWe had a great discussion about this novel during Book Club and I was elieved that I wasn t the only one who eacted so strongly and personally to Nora s story Several women said eading 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 eadAmazing 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 an 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 iver 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 ight now it would say such a good teacherdaughterfriend instead and what I eally want to shout and want in big letters on that grave too is FUCK YOU ALL Don t all women feel The book title is fantastic just those few words create an image of someone lonely Who would want to be the woman upstairs Not me that s for sure Nora the sad schoolteacher who narrates this story doesn t want to be the woman upstairs either But she can t change her MO no matter how hard she tries Nora euates the woman upstairs with mediocrity and mediocrity implies a lack of adventure a lack of success and a lack of passion She hopes she is finally breaking out of the mold when she falls in love with Sirena a glamorous Italian artist with a beautiful son and husband Nora isn t just in love she is obsessed and her obsession fills her every waking moment But Nora never professes her love and her love affair emains a fantasy Nora is extremely self conscious and constantly wonders what Sirena thinks of her Since the story is told from Nora s point of view we don t eally know what Sirena thinks of her either until the book ends and packs a wallop Nora who always wanted to be an artist is influenced by Sirena and they ent a studio space together Nora starts devoting all her free time to art although she thinks it s a sham She is creating dollhouses inhabited by famous people and is merely eenacting history whereas Sirena is creating original art big bizarre multi media installations Sirena asks Nora for help with her project and Nora is thrilled Mostly it gives Nora an excuse to be around Sirena though she likes the art part too In some ways it s easy to elate to Nora She is full of major egret She always wanted to be an artist but like so many of us she sacrificed art to earn a decent living Did she sell out Did we I identified with her unwillingness to network and kiss up which the art worlds demand Who wants to schmooze Who wants the competition And then on top of that there s the fear of failing Nora just wants to create art not struggle with egos and practicalities She feels like she missed her chance to pursue what she eally wanted to do Or had she just been too scared or lazy to go after her dream Did she get hung up with money and comfort These are the things that Nora pondersMy major complaint is that not much happens At the beginning of the book Nora is pissed very pissed Her anger is strong and passionate and aggressive and I was getting evved up with her I was eady for the est of the book to be high drama but the intensity drops off immediately as she flashes back to the events that led up to her being pissed and it s slow going The old Nora who occupies most of the book is super passive and spends most of the time mulling things over I count about five events the est is brilliant internal monologue Don t get me wrong I love brilliant internal monologues But I don t like it when they overpower the book when I find myself saying Hurry up now Get to the point Let s have something HAPPEN Okay I know picky picky But indeed I have some other complaintsIt s all in the ending Or is it The ending though super clever and astounding left me wanting a little closure So what happened THEN At least it was WAY better than the ending in The Other Typist which was ambiguous and REALLY frustratingThose damn dashes The writer went a little dash crazy especially toward the end of the book Overusing dashes like overusing parentheses makes the writing sloppy every fragment seems like an afterthought or a bit of stream of consciousnessArt smarts Way too. 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.
If you e interested in a book with unlikeable unreliable characters hints of possible drama obsession and betrayal melancholy and whining endless un on narrative from the main character a plot that bogs down completely and a ushed ending then have I got the book for you I decided to ead 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 ight now it would say such a good teacherdaughterfriend instead She becomes infatuated with the whole Shahid family and because of this association she esumes 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 easonable way than the deluded and angry Nora Annasue McCleave Wilson from Publishers Weekly I wouldn t want to be friends with Nora would you Her outlook is almost unbearably grimClaire Messud For heaven s sake what kind of uestion is that Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath Saleem Sinai Hamlet Krapp Oedipus Oscar Wao Antigone Raskolnikov Any of the characters in The Corrections Any of the characters in Infinite Jest Any of the characters in anything Pynchon has ever written Or Martin Amis Or Orhan Pamuk Or Alice Munro for that matter If you e eading to find friends you e in deep trouble We ead to find life in all its possibilities The elevant uestion isn t is this a potential friend for me but is this character alive Nora s outlook isn t unbearably grim at all Nora is telling her story in the immediate wake of an enormous betrayal by a friend she has loved dearly She is deeply upset and angry But most of the novel is describing a time in which she felt hope beauty elation joy wonder anticipation these are things these friends gave to her and this is why they mattered so much Her age corresponds to the immensity of what she has lost It doesn t matter in a way whether all those emotions were the esult of eal interactions or of fantasy she experienced them fully And in losing them has lost happinessWhat is this strange obsession with the likeability or unlikeability of Nora s character in this stupendous novel It seems so stale and entirely besides the point to me that I don t even know where to begin Thank goodness for my Goodreads friends Gloria Marianna and Ami who were uick to jump to this woman s defense underlining how much they actually identified and empathized with her as opposed to feeling appalled by her inner demons When have you last heard a female s voice so sharply defined so feverish so inhabited so perceptive so damn heartbreaking as Nora s Here is a shimmering complex and broken character whom Virginia Woolf would have evered Who has never felt envy towards others Obsessive friendships Unrealized and stubborn aspirations that eat at you like a plague There is no likeability or unlikeability here only the furious will to live and hunger for feeling I could go on and on but I will leave the last words to Margaret Atwood taking part in the debate in The New Yorker Also what is likeable We love to watch bad people do awful things in fictions though we would not like it if they did those things to us in eal life The energy that drives any fictional plot comes from the darker forces whether they be external opponents of the heroine or hero or internal components of their selvesThink Walter White in Breaking Bad Isn t he one of the most iveting complicated morally torn and furiously alive character you ve ever encountered Nora Eldridge is cut from the same clothAn astounding novel 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 ole attached to her gender dutiful daughter involved professional eliable 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 esigned 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 eader unashamedlyI was cheering for Nora and for Messud in the first pages of this psychological oller coaster for the subversive undertone that mines Messud s straightforward voice basking in their protest against the sexist ole assigned to women in literature as in many other aspects of our culture and was eady to empathize with this unconventional maybe even despicable heroine I espect 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 eaders by the way she grovels in self pity Nora was supposed to become eual to any other flawed human being egardless of class or gender to ise above convention and speak for the many women who live trapped in their circumstancesLeaving style aside which I think is ather 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 ebel against estricting her to a limited form of expression that belittled her in the eyes of others Her age 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 ealizing she has lived a lie imposed by her inflated delusions of grandeur No need to go upstairs women like Nora abound everywhere Hmmm Lots of thoughts There is brilliance here in how Messud takes up anger hunger and loneliness There are many problems here like THERE IS NO PLOT This is the kind of book that makes people hate literary fiction My biggest issue though is that so much of the prose is aimless and not in a compelling way Also 37 in Cambridge is NOT THE END OF THE LINE That is not middle aged In a city like Cambridge 37 is when many women might think Maybe I ll settle down and have some kids This is not universally true but still Come on And maybe I m just being oversensitive but I don t 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 Book of the Year • A Kirkus Best Fiction Book • A Goodreads Best BookNora Eldridge is a eliable.
Many detailed descriptions of art pieces A little is okay but a lot means I have to work too hard My head hurts I want dialogue I want elationships I don t want descriptive text Granted the art pieces were super edgy and weird and 3 D but still Fuck Saying fuck is fine but please use it like you mean it Nora speaks pretty formally so I didn t buy it when she said fuck and it was made worse by the fact that she used it very sparingly In my experience you either say fuck a lot or you don t say it at all It jarred me every time I hope I m not accused of the same thing Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck So there Really how old is she Is Nora just 37 Huh There s a disconnect between the way Nora acts and her supposed age I didn t buy it that she s so set in her ways at 37 She thinks she missed the boat that her life is almost over that it s too late to pursue art What She s still a baby Her habits and even her thoughts seem like those of someone who s 50 or 60 or even 70 I m 64 and I felt like she was my peer She needs a lot pep in her step for me to believe she s in her mid 30sIt s strange that this book esembles The Other Typist so much both books have a female narrator who is sad and solitary and who becomes obsessed with a charismatic woman And both have tons of internal monologues Nora is definitely likable and endearing than Rose in The Other Typist which made me like The Woman Upstairs betterWhat s the final verdict It s one of those books that I liked after I finished eading it And it s one of those books where I highlighted a lot which always ups the ating It s a good story with great insight into a complex character and the ending is priceless The book just gets bogged down in Nora s thoughts at the expense of dialogue and action I do ecommend it I don t think others will be so annoyed by the lack of action It s a good ead It gets a 40 despite my complaint board The Woman Upstairs is an occasion to eawaken a literary hot button that I love the unlikeable character Plenty of people hated The Emperor s Children for the same eason they hated Th This is a ancorous ead about lost opportunities The narrator is bursting with age Uncomfortable Corrosive UrgentBut the writing Oh the writing Masterly and picture perfect And the endingUnforeseen Damn I eally wanted to ead this book as it provoked a stir in the media about the likability factor of a character That coupled with a friends urging lead me ight up the stairs This book seems to be one that produces so many different eactions by different eaders For me I was hooked ight away and couldn t put it downIt actually disturbs me that the uestion of whether or not Nora the main character is likable or not was even brought up I found her fascinating and the thought of whether or not I liked her never occurred to me This eally brings up the uestion of stereotypes in our society and just how prevalent they are I found Messud s writing absolutely brilliant and was enthralled the entire timeWhile this book does lack a solid plot there is so much to chew on It evolves around Nora a schoolteacher who is the woman upstairs In the beginning Nora talked about her anger anger that she is trapped in a world that is a sham One she feels has limited her in every way Describing the woman upstairs she says We e the uiet women at the end of the 3rd floor hallway who s trash is always tidy who smiles brightly in the stairwell with a cheerful greeting and who from behind closed doors never makes a soundwe are furiouswe e completely invisible She also asks a hypothetical uestion given the chance would we ather fly or be invisible She states that most choose to fly but ight away I chose to be invisible which is maybe why I loved this book so much But then again I had never considered Nora s type of invisibleThe entire story centers on a particular period of time in Nora s life where she felt alive and hopeful again It happens when a particular couple and their young son enter her life and she becomes madly obsessed with them She falls in love with them each in a different and profound way Her dream has always been to be an artist She feels life has passed her by at the age of 37 To feel this way at 37 Yet as I look at societies obsession with youth and how few women I see over that age especially in acting television and the music industry it gives me pause Yet another societal stereotype Messud has cleverly inserted into her story As Nora s dream was to become an artist her feelings may not be that far off the mark Yet as she is drawn into this families life she experiences a new passion for her art and everything she assumed was lost to her However these passions only awaken through others It becomes a scary look into a woman who has no selfI can t help but look at women who s lives are so bound by what others think of them how the outside must always look in perfect order and just how damaging this is And where it could lead through the character of Nora The ending of this book packs a wallop and left me wanting to know Highly Recommended The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud is a 2013 Knopf publication I checked out this book after looking through a Booklist with listed books centered around betrayal and obsession I d never heard of it but it sounded intriguing The story starts off with Nora Eldridge meeting a new student in her class which puts her in touch with the boy s mother Sirena The two women discover they share a passion for art and become very good friends even enting a studio together But Nora has just lost her mother is caring for her elderly father is not married and her life hasn t exactly panned out like she had intended For whatever eason she begins to latch onto her new friend Sirena her husband Skandar and their son Reza The attachment uickly escalates into an unhealthy obsession and of course this never ends well But this story has an added twist to that theme and it s the anticipation of that development that kept me turning pages wondering when the other shoe was going to drop Well hum I m not sure what to make of this one Nora is one weird chickadee I suppose she had dedicated so much time to caring for her mother going through the normal outine of teaching school and hanging out with her egular friends that she was looking for some kind of excitement something or someone to come along and pull her out of her ordinary outine and add a dash of color to her otherwise dull existence But I didn t understand the depth of that attachment or why she clung to it so ferociously for so long Without seeming to ealize it she traded her bland outine for another outine one that still kept her from being fully appreciated or living life outside her comfort zone The bombshell is a eal stunner and would certainly account for the oiling anger Nora is expressing at the beginning of the book It was of course the final straw for Nora You ll have to ead the book to see how she esponds to this evelation This is a character study than anything and the story only emains interesting for a while then soon begins to drag so that it was almost torturous having to slog through the last uarter of the book which was dull and lifeless just to get to the big eveal The story came to a shockingly abrupt end but the point was made succinctly so perhaps nothing need be added Overall this one was slightly off the beaten path for me but had its merits It wasn t great but it was okay 3 stars. Her 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 iveting confession of a woman awakened transformed and abandoned by a desire for a world beyond her own.
Claire Messud is an American novelist and literature and creative writing professor She is best known as the author of the 2006 novel The Emperor's Children She lives with her husband and family in Cambridge MassachusettsBorn in Greenwich Connecticut Messud grew up in the United States Australia and Canada returning to the United States as a teenager Messud's mother is Canadian and her