Has there ever been a book/author you hadn’t heard of before and then all of a sudden that book is everywhere you look? Woman No. 17 was that book for me, out of nowhere it flooded my social media feed, obviously, it immediately became a must read book!
From the inside cover:
High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In response to a Craigslist ad, S arrives, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s toddler, Devin, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage son, Seth. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady.
But in the heat of the summer, S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. And as Lady and S move closer to one another, the glossy veneer of Lady’s privileged life begins to crack, threatening to expose old secrets that she has been keeping from her family. Meanwhile, S is protecting secrets of her own, about her real motivation for taking the job. S and Lady are both playing a careful game, and every move they make endangers the things they hold most dear.
Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.
Woman No. 17 is narrated, in alternating chapters, by Lady and S, they fill you in on their present situation and their past, particularly their relationship with their family. I enjoyed the chatty tone these woman used as it made this a light-hearted read and suited the humour scattered throughout the book. It wasn’t a ‘laugh-out-loud’ funny but a dark comic humour that made me chuckle to myself:
“The acrid smell asserts itself once more. It seems like it’s coming from the back of the house, but perhaps it’s the stench of my mother’s soul.”
I’ve seen mixed reviews for this book (averaging at 3 stars) and I can understand why – both Lady and S are so self-absorbed to the point of believing the whole world revolves around them and as they’re the main characters, it may put some people off. But not me, I thought the novel worked really well, it almost had a feel like the two women were silently in competition with each other, thus you could never one hundred percent predict where this story was going. I really liked the supporting characters too, everyone had a part and together it worked really well. Lepucki has a lovely smooth fluidity to her writing that just made this book a pleasure to read.
What’s interesting about Woman No. 17 is I can’t pinpoint what it is that made me enjoy this book so much, to a certain extent the book was thought-provoking, even if the characters were somewhat shallow, there was no crescendo to a grand reveal, you wouldn’t be wrong to say there was barely a twist at all. It was, instead, Lady and S telling you a story in a “come look at my life” kind of way. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed their story, having that insight into their lives. I always thought I wasn’t a mood reader but maybe I am because this is another novel that I think is perfect summer reading material – literary fiction that isn’t too dark in it’s delivery, comic and addictive.