Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Intro: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

How 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 parent's shit and my brother's shit, and I'm not a girl anyhow, I'm over forty fu**ing 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 say "Great Artist" on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say "such a good teacher/daughter/friend" instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FU@K YOU ALL.
The Woman Upstairs
by Claire Messud

I'll bet that opening got your attention! In addition to receiving high praise from trusted bloggers, this book had spawned heated discussion on the subject of likable characters. After a long wait, I finally reached the top of the library hold list and started reading yesterday. After fifty pages, I am enthralled.

What do you think of the opening? Do you want to read more?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

44 comments:

  1. Oh, wow! I have been keeping an eye on this one, and that is one f***ing opener! I would definitely keep reading.

    Here's MY TUESDAY MEMES POST

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    1. Laurel Rain-Snow - That's the most attention-getting opener I've read in a while!

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  2. That really *did* catch my attention. I would definitely keep reading.

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    1. Beth F - I was 50 pages in before I looked up.

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  3. She sounds like a very angry lady! Not sure if I would continue.

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    1. Pat - She is definitely one angry lady!

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  4. I've heard a lot about this book written by a fantastic author--a definite keeper. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Catherine Healy - I am loving it so far... excellent writing!

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    1. Jennifer - Based on the first 50 pages, I think you should!

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  6. Yep, that definitely drew me in! I can't wait to see what you think when you're done! Now, off to put my name on the waiting list at my library, thanks for the heads up!

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    1. Natalie - Hope your hold list isn't as long as mine was... either way, it's worth the wait.

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  7. I have become interested in unlikeable main characters and I'd read this book for sure.

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    1. Harvee - Sometimes unlikable characters are just more fun.

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  8. I still don't get why someone would say no to a book simply because the main character is angry. It seems like there's a fear that negative emotions will be contagious.

    Speaking as "blogger", thanks for the link by the way, I say read it. But make sure you keep reading. There may be points where you want to give up, but it's well worth going on to the end. I thought the ending was a knock-out.

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    1. James - I don't get that either... seems like it would be pretty boring reading about likable, happy characters all the time. I'm very impressed with the writing and definitely plan to read the entire novel.

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  9. I do want to read more. Good thing I bought a copy. ;-)

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    1. Amy - Ha! I almost bought a copy the day I read James' review.

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  10. WOW. That definitely grabbed me. I've heard this book is pretty incredible.

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    1. Picky - I'm pretty impressed after 50 pages.

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  11. Hmm. Well some people have loved it, including the folks at EW. Others have hated it, calling the protagonist whiny and wearisome after awhile. I'm curious though. That is some serious pissed off woman.

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    1. Sandy - I'm almost ready to declare it a 5 star read after only 50 pages... hope it continues this way for the rest of the book.

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  12. Wow. I'm intrigued by that opening, although all the f'ing could get old quickly.

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    1. Stacybuckeye - There hasn't been much f'ing after that initial outburst. She's trying to be calm and objective as she begins telling her story... we'll see if it stays that way.

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  13. I am so glad you included that introduction to A Woman Upstairs! You're right; what an opener!

    This book is on my "must read" list for either July or August. Did you happen to read Messud's The Emperor's Children? I rated it the #1 book for the year it was published, which I now forget. But another not-to-be-missed novel. I love it that Messud is deep, clever, analytical, and amazing.

    Enjoyed your post!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

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    1. Judith - I have not read The Emperor's Children, but I have a feeling it may move to the top of my list once I finish The Woman Upstairs. This is such a smart. well-written novel, wish I could ignore everything else and finish reading!

      Thanks for visiting... nice to meet a fellow upstate NY blogger!

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  14. The opening got my attention as did your comment about wanting to rate it five stars after only 50 pages. I'm going to see how long a wait I have at my library.

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    1. Margot - Just had an interesting conversation on twitter with a reader who said this could be either a love or hate book. Can definitely see how that might be true, but right now I'm leaning toward love.

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  15. Ouch! I don't have to love a character to love reading their story, but I'm not sure I want her in my head for the time it takes to read her story.

    This meme is actually an interesting exercise because I often don't love a book right off the bat--it takes me a while to warm up to new characters and settle into a groove of listening to them, so while the publishing industry seems to think that a novel hangs on its opening....this isn't my experience.

    Anyway, I'll take your word that it is terrific!

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    1. JaneGS - I totally agree! Before I started participating in this meme, the intro paragraph was of little importance because it often took 50 pages to decide whether I was even going to read a novel. Now I am much more tuned in to early cues and have an easier time deciding if a book is for me.

      This particular novel is so smart and well-written... can't wait to see where it's going!

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  16. Powerful opening. I have that book, so naturally I would keep reading. I will be very interested in what you thought of it.

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    1. Diane - After 50 pages, I love it! Wonderful writing and I can understand exactly where the character is coming from... can't wait to see where it ends up.

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  17. That is definitely an attention getting opening. I would keep reading.

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    1. Nise' - Don't think I've ever read an opening as powerful and angry as this one!

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  18. Holy f*bomb! I want to read this one like right now!

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    1. Staci - Judging from the first 50 pages, you'd be making the right decision to drop everything and read it!

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    1. Kelley - It's definitely not for everyone.

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  20. Definitely has me interested. That bit alone made me add it to my to-read list.

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    1. Carol - Didn't make much progress today, but I'm enjoying this one.

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  21. I loved this book! I wish you were listening to it, but I'm so glad you like it. I'm sure you've read about some the controversy in the Publisher's Weekly interview. I think Messud is amazing I admire her boldness both as a writer and in the press. Nora's narrative voice demands our attention from the word go. Some people don't like her as a protagonist, but for me she is a woman finding her power, her voice, a woman who has to reconcile her choices and create her future. I'll be very interested to read your review!!

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    1. Cassandra - I'm very tempted to makes this a read/listen combination. The PW controversy is so interesting and I admire Messud's response. Nora is a fascinating character! I can't wait to continue reading the book... was away Thursday-Sunday and forgot to pack it!

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  22. Wow! What a great intro! Off to see if I can get it from my library. Now to decide whether I want to read it or listen to it...

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    1. Les - The writing in The Woman Upstairs is so wonderful that you'll want a print copy to reread and mark passages, but the audio is also excellent. I ended up downloading it from audible. Guess I'm not much help in advising which route to go... just don't miss it!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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