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Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Woman No. 17

by Edan Lepucki

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Woman No. 17 is an engaging story about two troubled women who come into each other's lives by chance. The perspective switches back and forth between the two, and each time we hear from the other woman, it seems as if a new layer of her personality and her past is revealed. I always hesitate to describe any writing or art as "gritty," because it's such an overused phrase, but I can't think of a better use for it than this. Edan Lepucki's writing is raw and gritty. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. Both of the main characters are working through issues with their mothers (and issues as a mother, for one of them). These relationships are examined in all their ugly, human complexity. ( )
  CaptainAllison | Apr 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Writer Lady Daniels and artist S Fowler (pseudonym for Esther Shapiro) share the spotlight of this story set in the Hollywood Hills. Lady gives the first POV, and I was struck at how bluntly honest and forthright she was with us readers. She kept me engaged even though her life was extremely messed up, but I eventually realized that she is not as honest as she pretends to be, unfortunately for her family.

S, on the other hand, is upfront about her trickery and deceipt, at least with us readers. She, weirdly, has taken on the persona of her estranged mother, who, when S's age, was an irresponsible nanny and a drunk. S also matches hair colorand makeup choices to Mom circa 1985. Weird that S would want to imitate such a phase in her mother's life, and that she actually knew so many details. S is doing this for an "art project." I didn't get it. When Lady hires S as nanny to her three-year old, Lady has no idea that S is playing a part (Who would do that, after all?) and no idea how her 18 year old son will react to the new live-in. S goes on to another art project, one that Lady is unwittingly swept into, and I started to get the why, but felt it still very strange indeed.

These women are more alike than initially apparent. Mother issues on both their parts; their mothers even had mother issues. Mother issues are a big factor. That I got! Complicated relationships and self-absorbed characters make this one that you have to occasionally stop and wonder about, sometimes asking, Who are these people? Do I care about what will happen to them? The children, yes. The adults, not so much. I read an ARC courtesy of LibraryThings.com. ( )
  kdabra4 | Apr 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This novel was uncomfortable enough to keep pulling me back to it. I did not find the main characters very likable, but their dysfunction, trauma, and self-absorption made for an interesting story line. I kept asking myself, who are they going to leave in their wake of destruction next. It explored the painful and dysfunctional relationships S and Lady had with their own mothers, and how those experiences have shaped these two women in their adult lives. The relationship between S and Lady's son Seth was one of the most thrilling parts of this novel, as well as Lady coming to terms with her ex Marco and the repercussions of never letting Seth meet his father. Would not recommend as a thriller, but as literary fiction. ( )
  BrittanyLyn | Apr 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Lady- real name Pearl- is separated from her husband and trying to write a book about her oldest son Seth, who is selectively mute. Seth has never known his father since he left when he was a toddler. Lady also has a 2 yr old son Devin, by another man. She hires "S" short for Esther to nanny Devin while she is writing. S is not just a nanny, she is actually creating an "art" project by becoming her alcoholic, lascivious mother. The story is told through the eyes of Lady and S. While the story held my attention, I kept waiting for it to go somewhere. Lady is a self absorbed and sees everything as it relates to her, she goes for hours and days without knowing what her sons are up to. S is so busy trying to prove she's an artist, she begins to lose herself. ( )
  Brenda63 | Apr 18, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Woman No. 17 is Lady, a wealthy woman, separated from her husband, with two sons, one a toddler and one beginning college. She hires S as a nanny for her younger son, so that she can work on the book she's writing about her relationship with her older son, Seth, who is mute. S is adrift after the end of a relationship and determined to live her life as an art project.

There's a feeling of unease throughout the novel that Edan Lepucki executed really well. This isn't a crime story, or even a novel where a lot happens, but rather a close look at motherhood from the point of view of two women who both had very flawed and difficult relationships with their own mothers, one of whom is figuring out motherhood for herself. Halfway through, I found myself buying a copy of her first novel, which is to say, Woman No. 17 is worth reading, especially if you like character studies and fine writing. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Apr 17, 2017 |
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High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She's going to need a hand with her young son if she's ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guesthouse out back, care for Lady's young toddler son and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage one. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.'s connection to Lady's older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to each other as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear.
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