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It's about a book I wish I'd had in my backpack back then, a book Both scientific and poetic, Women Who Run With the Wolves is not 1. Overcivilization is the Death of the Soul. Maybe you were raised . We die to our little-girl selves to become women and we die to our adventurous times of exploration.
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MacAlindin and his team of tutors and translators endeavour to corral Kurdish, Sunni and Shia musicians — mostly self-taught, via YouTube — into some semblance of musical teamwork. Yet there are many moving moments, such as when the female players, used to the constraints of what he calls a fiercely misogynistic society, share their elation in feeling the true equals of their male counterparts in the orchestra.

It is witty, insightful and fascinating, asking: Why is power all about concrete? Are the young, fragile states of the Middle East conducive to justice, equality or stability? Of particular interest to students of development will be the chapters on Africa and Latin America, though only Sahelian and sub-Saharan Africa are considered in depth. The problematic legacy of colonialism is covered, with borders drawn by people who had little knowledge of the land or of people whose fates they were deciding. The chapter also touches on the importance of ethnicity and the falsity of the nation state in parts of Africa where borders have divided tribes and families.

The maps themselves are little more informative than glancing at Google Earth. The most striking is the one of the Arctic viewed from above, in which the icy land is encroached on by Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, like a child cowering in the midst of angry adults.

The Arctic is seen mainly as a source of potential wealth and potential conflict, and Marshall does not consider in depth the environmental implications of the imminent hydrocarbon exploration there. The changing climate has considerable implications for political geography, with dormant conflicts and tensions becoming more incendiary as pressure on resources — land and water, primarily — increases. Marshall would have you believe in the belligerence of not just Russia but the whole world, and this makes the book both exciting and rather depressing. There is a sense that Pakistan and India will never be at peace, Africa will never be rich, and the arbitrary national boundaries that mainly western and northern powers drew over the past century will take years of bloody fighting to resolve.

Marshall informs us that: After years confined to the printed page, Wonder Woman was back with a bang in Given her outfit — star-spangled blue hotpants and red and gold bustier — it was no great surprise to find that Wonder Woman, who made her DC Comics debut in , was created by a man, William Moulton Marston. What was a surprise was that the influence for his creation was the growing suffrage movement and the women in his life.

Wonder Woman was a princess warrior from the Amazon tribe, known in Greek mythological for their courage and strength. With her lasso of truth and bullet-proof bracelets, this female superhero would free women from the constraints of their sex, battle injustices and promote peace. Wonder Woman stories depicted the daily battles women faced, and the fight to take an equal role in the world. I imagine there will always be debate about those hotpants, and the chains in which Wonder Woman often found herself bound still have a whiff of repression about them.

But Lepore has delivered a fascinating, very readable book that offers a new insight into a character I loved watching on TV as a child, but who seemed to fall out of favour as I grew older. Lepore brings Wonder Women back to life in all her messy, feminist glory. You can leave your thoughts in the comment thread below, or email us at development theguardian. Topics Global development in review. 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 rage corresponds to the immensity of what she has lost. And in losing them, has lost happiness. 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 quick 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 revered. Who has never felt envy towards others? 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. 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 real 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 selves.

Isn't he one of the most riveting, complicated, morally torn and furiously alive character you've ever encountered? Nora Eldridge is cut from the same cloth. View all 42 comments. Oct 30, Debbie "DJ" rated it it was amazing Shelves: I really wanted to read 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 right up the stairs. This book seems to be one that produces so many different reactions by different readers.

For me, I was hooked right away, and couldn't put it down. It actually disturbs me that the question of whether or not Nora the main character is likable or not was even brought up. I found her fascinating, and the thought of wh I really wanted to read this book as it provoked a stir in the media about the "likability" factor of a character. I found her fascinating, and the thought of whether or not I liked her never occurred to me.

This really brings up the question of stereotypes in our society, and just how prevalent they are. I found Messud's writing absolutely brilliant, and was enthralled the entire time. While this book does lack a solid plot, there is so much to chew on. It revolves around Nora, a schoolteacher, who is "the woman upstairs. One she feels has limited her in every way.

Describing the woman upstairs, she says "We're the quiet 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 sound She states that most choose to fly, but right 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 invisible. The 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 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 self. I 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 more.

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View all 60 comments. Dec 11, Dolors rated it liked it Recommends it for: The dissatisfied woman within you. 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 role attached to her gender: 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 reader unashamedly.

Female protagonists have been simplified or overlooked for years while their male counterparts were more 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 quandaries, to disgust readers by the way she grovels in self-pity.

Nora was supposed to become equal to any other flawed human being regardless of class or gender, to rise above convention and speak for the many women who live trapped in their circumstances. Her rage has no consequence and is born in silence. I expected a grand finale, an outrageous outcome, and I merely got a feeble implosion of a woman realizing she has lived a lie imposed by her inflated delusions of grandeur. No need to go upstairs, women like Nora abound everywhere. View all 41 comments. The two women discover they share a passion for art and become very good friends, even renting a studio together.

For whatever reason, she begins to latch onto her new friend, Sirena, her husband Skandar and their son, Reza. The attachment quickly escalates into an unhealthy obsession and of course this never ends well. Nora is one weird chickadee. I suppose she had dedicated so much time to caring for her mother, going through the normal routine of teaching school, and hanging out with her regular friends, that she was looking for some kind of excitement, something or someone to come along and pull her out of her ordinary routine and add a dash of color to her otherwise dull existence.

Without seeming to realize it, she traded her bland routine for another routine, one that still kept her from being fully appreciated or living life outside her comfort zone. The bombshell is a real stunner, and would certainly account for the roiling anger Nora is expressing at the beginning of the book. It was, of course, the final straw for Nora. This is more a character study than anything, and the story only remains interesting for a while, then soon begins to drag, so that it was almost torturous having to slog through the last quarter of the book which was dull and lifeless, just to get to the big reveal.

The story came to a shockingly abrupt end, but the point was made succinctly, so perhaps nothing more need be added. Overall, this one was slightly off the beaten path for me, but had its merits. View all 15 comments. The book title is fantastic; just those few words create an image of someone lonely. Who would want to be the woman upstairs? Nora equates 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 s The book title is fantastic; just those few words create an image of someone lonely. 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. But Nora never professes her love, and her love affair remains a fantasy. Nora is extremely self-conscious and constantly wonders what Sirena thinks of her. Nora, who always wanted to be an artist, is influenced by Sirena, and they rent a studio space together.

She is creating dollhouses inhabited by famous people, and is merely reenacting 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.

She is full of major regret. 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? I identified with her unwillingness to network and kiss up, which the art worlds demand. Who wants to schmooze? Who wants the competition? Nora just wants to create art, not struggle with egos and practicalities. She feels like she missed her chance to pursue what she really 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?

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These are the things that Nora ponders. My 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 revved up with her. 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 rest is brilliant internal monologue.

Get to the point. But indeed I have some other complaints: The ending, though super clever and astounding, left me wanting a little more closure. So what happened THEN? The writer went a little dash crazy, especially toward the end of the book.

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Overusing dashes, like overusing parentheses, makes the writing sloppy; every fragment seems like an afterthought or a bit of stream of consciousness. Way too many detailed descriptions of art pieces! A little is okay, but a lot means I have to work too hard. I want dialogue, I want relationships. Granted, the art pieces were super edgy and weird and 3-D, but still Saying fuck is fine, but please use it like you mean it. It jarred me every time. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Really, how old is she?: Is Nora just 37? Her habits and even her thoughts seem like those of someone who's 50, or 60, or even And both have tons of internal monologues.

It gets a 4.


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Jun 16, Tw rated it liked it. They see her as pathetic. And once you have children, the deal is sealed. You are woman, hear you roar! Nora is a year-old school teacher whose mother who truly loved her is dead and whose aging father needs her. Nora is the utility person. The filler of water bottles and cleaner of equipment but never gets to play the game. The center of no one's life but the agent of many lives.

A person of talent unpracticed which time will turn to mediocrity because it was simply never developed. A person so inconsequential that those she thinks are closest to her will humiliate her if it serves their own ends. And she's angry because now she knows all this with certainty. Naturally, she has lied to herself about this truth.

And this is where the writer I think advances beyond a lot of readers. We all lie to ourselves about some critical truth in our lives. Unless you have caught yourself in some lie on which your identity stands, and then have had some unexpected circumstance bring you right up against that lie so powerfully that it can literally knock you to your knees, you may simply lack the experience to fully appreciate this book. A lot of people don't like the book I think because most of us just keep whistling right to the grave. Lots of young reviewers have complained that 37 is not old in hip Cambridge.

But biology is biology. I wonder to the extent this current generation is whistling away--thinking life goes on and on with the same endless options as fleeting youth. That 37 is still young for a woman and children and family always a future option. That 70 is not really THAT old and dependence some far off and not inevitable future. Good luck with that view. Life is a bell curve, with a beginning and, yes an end.

With options declining as you go and the peak coming much sooner than today's young seem to want to face. I think this too irritates a lot of people about this book. Nora at the book's end has dropped these self-deceptions because only by viewing painful realities as they are can she really live life. View all 6 comments. Mar 03, Kelly rated it it was ok Shelves: Claire Messud's piece does not end like it begins. Perhaps that's a good thing, for most books.

We want to see stories change, characters learn things, events take us from one place to another, and so I did and do with this book. But the first part was deceptive. Messud sets up this book to be about an angry third-grade school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts who started her life meaning to be an artist, and ended up, through the force of her mother's example, financial timidity, and, eventual Claire Messud's piece does not end like it begins.

Messud sets up this book to be about an angry third-grade school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts who started her life meaning to be an artist, and ended up, through the force of her mother's example, financial timidity, and, eventually, through guilt over her chosen sell-out career, becoming a teacher. She has now been an elementary teacher for years upon years and is a very good one, respected and loved by parents as someone who "gets kids".

This means that she manifests in the world as patient, giving, kind, curious and fair, and the sort of teacher who creates learning experiences her students can enjoy. And this book was supposed to be about her resentment of that, about female frustration and containment even if, in this day and age, it is a partial self-containment. It starts like an angry diary entry that anyone might write on a particularly petulant Wednesday evening or particularly drunk Saturday, or perhaps even one of those anonymous teacher blogs where educators vent their frustration without the fear of being fired.

It's petty and vicious and small, filled with the sort of teeny-tiny embittered reflections and persecutions that only upper-middle-class white ladies have the time to dwell on and remember in such precise detail. The parent who told her she "gets kids" for the first time, her obsessing and reading that as someone not seeing her as fully adult or responsible.

The way she perceives herself as a "Woman Upstairs," as a sort of outdated cliche of a repressed, "nice" woman who hardly speaks a word out of turn and rages in quiet desperation on the inside, prickling at every mention of her "art" with resentment. She was fascinating in the sense that her inner monologues, resentments and sadnesses read like those of a teenager- that is, someone who spends an awful lot of time concerned with trying to establish their own identity, mostly through worrying about what others perceive about them and projecting it onto themselves.

The sort of identity making we do before we trust it to come from inside of us at least as much as we can. It was an incredibly accurate portrayal, in that sense, of that sort of mindset. I expected that we would see this pettiness and sadness and gradually strip away the layers to find the beauty. Or perhaps I expected that after her initial ugly outburst, we would be taken at least with some sort of sympathy through all the things that made her the way that she is and why, perhaps in just as ugly a fashion, but in a way that made her pettiness understandable perhaps she was hiding from something large?

In any case, I felt confident that Messud was working on a separate plane from our narrator, and she would be able to show us her mind and let us explore while also showing us everything that her character was missing, all the things little and small that made her what she was that she refused to see. However, as the book went on, I lost that faith. I think Messud did attempt this on one or two occasions, but slowly and surely, I came to the conclusion that she was siding with our character in a really unhelpful way that brought down whatever potential she had.

Nora becomes less and less complex. For the first part of the novel, I had assumed that Messud was hiding Claire's real pain and sadness and we would get there, but no. It turns out that everything is right on the surface and no deeper than it appears. Clare is exactly the sort of person who never took charge of her own life, who always did what others told her, who made choice after choice out of timidity or an inability to understand the life of the artist beyond the surface- she is a person who absolutely could have changed her own life and possessed all the native talent and drive that she needed to do so.

Then she took it and buried it and redirected that drive into her second-choice profession, her anger, and maintaining a simulacra of her dream, so she can convince herself that it is not quite gone. It is the tired dilemma of middle-managers, frustrated housewives and anyone who ever went into the "family business" without much of a second thought. These people chose, or they slid into, or they let themselves be drawn down easy paths and then not only did that but stayed on those paths for more than a decade. I am impatient with that occurring and then turning around and claiming grand tragedy.

It is, at most, a subject to be treated with quiet melancholia, wise understanding, and, perhaps, if you feel something is missing in your life, an attempt to find something else to fulfill it. I think this is especially the case when, like Nora, view spoiler [, you were not forced out of the life of an artist, but made the practical decision, that many do, that the poverty and uncertainty of it, the whoring out you are required to do to sell your things, the hard work for little reward, the actual day-to-day living of the artist- is not for you.

She not only packed in her artist lifestyle, she persuaded her boyfriend to do so as well, turning him into just the sort of responsible person that she was telling him to be… and never wanted hide spoiler ]. Nora, by the middle of the book, came off as someone who either had no idea what she wanted, or wanted things that were STILL for outer show, in her late thirties. And worse, I think that I am supposed to sympathize with Nora and go along with her incredibly cliched and worn-out mid-life crisis. I think I am supposed to see her acting out all these antics, all the ones that she missed out on in high school and college, as sad, as things that draw me to her.

And the worst part of that is a that I don't. I am a teacher, I am someone who enjoys teaching but also thought she might have a different career, who has felt the sort of repressed rage Nora expressed at the beginning, been in the self-contained cage. But the way that Nora handles it reveals that the character a either has no depth or no progress beyond those young, heady years where she experienced the artist's lifestyle and gave it up or b knows she made a wrong choice and is dealing with it in a very juvenile and inappropriate manner, or, worse, c … the author thinks she is having her deal with it in an understandable and relatable manner that I am supposed to recognize and do not.

And I really think that it is C. I am so, so tired of encountering this middle-aged woman stereotype in literature, and not seeing justice done to her and her experiences. There is still a place for literature about these women, who still exist all over this country and beyond. It isn't exclusive to women. It's worth engaging with them to see why they do what they do and how it all could have been different. Was this book an attempt to explain such a stereotype to me?

To see the mundane, not brave, everyday person-ness of where it comes from? But it failed to make it compelling. It failed to show me a person worth caring about, who deserved better. There were two moments of truth later in the book, where I felt that, finally, some truth and commentary was happening that hinted to me that perhaps Messud's editorial position was not the same as her narrator's. Both of them occurred in conversations with her father. Nora is walking with her father, who tells her that he has had a strange phone call from her brother. On the phone call he noticed something odd about him, speculated as to a possible problem between him and his wife based on his evasive answers to his questions.

He showed an analytical brain far at odds with Nora's conception of him as a desperate old man who sits around doing nothing but waiting for her next visit. She shuts him down with some platitude, and he goes silent. The second moment occurred when they were discussing her mother.

Nora spouted some romanticized claptrap about her mother's gardening, and why the plants that wouldn't grow frustrated her so much- something about how they were the only thing she could control in her life and even they wouldn't do what she told them to. Her father basically laughs in her face, as if he can't believe it, and tells her about just how controlling her mother really was- that she decided everything in their lives, right down to what he wore and what they ate each night, where they lived, how it was decorated, when they went out and who their friends were.

Nora can't believe it and dismisses her father's insight- her father goes silent again. Just as he does on the other occasion when he dares to speak his mind to her. These two moments illuminated a great deal about her relationship with her father- why she keeps up the weekly visits duty, a sense of picking up her mother's role and playing it, taking on her mother's conceptualization of her father , why he likes to see her her conceptions are just like they were when his beloved wife was alive, she's still in her daughter role , and why he acts the part of a silent, doddering old man for her because that's how she prefers that he be.

Unfortunately, there was so much less insight offered about the other characters and Nora's interpretation of their actions. The way that the scenes were constructed, we see everything through Nora's paranoid and self-involved eyes. It's problematic that we see everything inside her head.

The insights Messud gives her are commonplace, and beyond that… she's a startlingly unappealing character to read about. Her obsession with her artist friend and her husband does not yield poetic insights, her odd fixation on a small boy is odd in a way that the book does not redeem. After we take this whole journey with her through her year of her obsession, I'm left scratching my head and asking why.

I can see why this character considers it important, in the narrative she tells herself, but I don't see it otherwise. I don't see what it did for her. She makes the sort of change a middle-aged woman who once wanted to be an artist might make- a big one, I suppose, but it seems only temporary. And, just like all her other changes, it is outward ONLY. On the inside, she seems just the same as she was at the beginning.

And you know what? It is not impossible to humanize this woman- to make her rise above accusations of First World Problems, of delusional oppression and self-involved and pampered choices. It can, in fact, be heartbreaking. I've seen it done. I've seen it done in literature- my review of the Awakening lists several examples of it, in literature written earlier in the century by great women artists.

But you know the one that always gets to me? Have you guys ever seen Paris Je T'aime? I don't love every part of that movie. But I will tell you the part that I do love, that I love so much and I am so affected by that I start crying almost before the segment even starts. I can't even watch it. It's the last film, the one about the middle aged American post-lady who takes a vacation to Paris by herself.

The one where she reads about her trip in French to what is clearly her French class back home?

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Here it is if you haven't seen it: Oh god, I can't even deal with it. It was difficult even to look up that moment on youtube without crying. It's like a compulsion. Every time I see it, I feel an immediate connection to this woman. I feel like I see her whole, little, sad, quiet life on her own. I see her struggling to make the best of it, I imagine the conversation she had with herself when she decided to take conversational French and how hard she probably works on it in her spare time, when she can.

I see the treats she gives her dogs and how much she loves them. I see her quiet resignation and acceptance of her small place in the universe, and how hard, despite clear, innocently expressed heartbreak, she tries to go on anyway. How she's fixated on France as the thing that will bring her life meaning and give her joy- like so many other writers and artists and great people before her. How even the smallest and quietest person can find the sort of ineffable, beautiful joy that we usually associate only with the great and brilliant.

She is pathetic and small and has some bitterness and regret, and she is wonderful in so many ways. My connection to her is visceral, and I feel every small wince and slight she experiences, however insignificant it might seem to others. There is next to nothing of this in Messud's book, not after the riotously angry beginning.

I already know this stereotype. I don't need her to recount and rehash it. And it offers me nothing more beyond it. I had hoped that this book would give me more reasons to fight for women like Carol, to express well deserved anger and show me why, within the confines of mundane life. But perhaps I expected too much of her. Either way, I am walking away disappointed.

Apr 25, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair. So she let the phone keep ringing and she sat there softly singing Little nursery rhymes she'd memorized in her daddy's easy chair. Even her trash is always tidy. Nora Eldridge has lived her life as a "woman upstairs. She has come to realize that her lif At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.

She has come to realize that her life has a shape and a horizon. Her paintings will not be on display in the Louvre. She will never be president or even ride through Paris with the wind in her hair. She will more than likely remain childless. Her dissatisfaction with her own stalled life leads Nora to become infatuated with the family of one of her students. The Shahids are perfect. The child, utterly charming.

His father, an intriguing intellectual. And his mother, a successful, confident artist - essentially everything Nora is not. She tries to explain to her friend, " Hope that maybe, just maybe When she loses touch with the Shahids briefly over the holidays, Nora frets, "The one thing I didn't want to believe was that they were going about their days in that dingy town house in perfect and consoling uneventfulness, and simply not thinking of me at all.

I started to be angry, a little. Who were they to ignore me? I'm a frustrated, nonproductive artist. I envy those with drive, ambition and creativity. Messud has created a fascinating character who may stretch the boundaries of decency, but always remains believable and realistic. Listen as Nora discusses her fear of aging: I will not spill into the lives of others, greedily sucking and wanting and needing.

I will ask nothing of anyone But somehow, she has allowed exactly this fearful vulnerability to happen when if comes to her dealings with the Shahids. The Woman Upstairs is like that. Will Nora remain a Woman Upstairs , or will she let her freak flag fly and learn to live? I've learned it's a mistake to reveal her at all. View all 9 comments. Apr 24, Zoeytron rated it really liked it Shelves: Nora Eldridge, 37, second grade school teacher, is the woman upstairs. Smiling on the outside, screaming on the inside, Nora struggles to tamp down the rising anger of missing out on what should have been her life.

An incident at school involving one of her young students puts Nora in close touch with the boy's parents. She become Nora Eldridge, 37, second grade school teacher, is the woman upstairs. She becomes obsessed with them, insinuating herself into their lives, feeling that she is becoming part of the family. She thinks of them to the exclusion of anything else, concocting plans where she can spend even more time with them.

It is inevitable that something will happen to mar this unhealthy mix. Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood filled with huge old two-story houses. The elderly couple next door rented their upstairs bedrooms to single women. These ladies rarely had visitors, they caught the bus at the end of the block to go to work each day, came home to their rooms, and generally were not seen again until the next day.

I was a little kid and didn't think much about it, but the title of this book made me think of them. Looking back, it must have been a lonely life for these women. View all 17 comments. May 30, Carol rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Woman Upstairs seems truly one of those books that mood dictates its reading as well as its liking. My first start found it wanting so I dropped it for something more fast paced. But like a bur it kept pricking me to pick it up. Then the awards started rolling in. In addition it seemed to be a favorite of many of my GoodReads friends.

So pick it up I did. The Woman Upstairs hurled me to the floor with its bleakness, wrenched my heart with such despair, yet somehow left me hopeful, hopefu The Woman Upstairs seems truly one of those books that mood dictates its reading as well as its liking. The Woman Upstairs hurled me to the floor with its bleakness, wrenched my heart with such despair, yet somehow left me hopeful, hopeful not only for myself but for its narrator. It is a story for women, perhaps middle-aged but certainly does not leave out those older and yes, even, younger.

So many of us will see something of ourselves on these pages. The simple synopsis - Nora, a middle-aged teacher becomes entangled with a foreign student and his family. Nora is first enraptured with her student from the first time he walks into her classroom. Then she meets Sirena, an alluring, somewhat mysterious, and glamorous Italian artist.

The bound is cemented when they rent and share an art studio where each will explore their creativity. It is here, in this studio that Skandar enters and becomes a subtle but important part of the picture. The title enthralls me with its imagery. Just think what it means. A woman who like a child is seen and not heard, who doesn't complain, who wants nothing, who makes no waves, a woman who sits in her upper room and watches life go by. This is not say she is not angry. Anger rears its ugly head throughout. In fact the very first line tells you there is something brewing.

There are so many beautiful thoughts and passages here but to quote them seems wrong when not taken in context. I'm not going to over think my thoughts or what I've written. I loved The Woman Upstairs. It is an exceptional study of women, art, relationships, friendship, betrayal, love, longing, and where we fit in this world.

View all 18 comments. As a lonely and unsatisfied school teacher with artistic ambitions, she befriends the parents of one of her young students and ends up obsessed with them. While she neglects her elderly father and forgets scheduled commitments at school, she succumbs to the needs of her so called new friends whom she now "loves" in various ways and desperately devotes all her free time; and the ending, well, not a surprise.

I struggled through the better part of t 37 year-old Nora Eldridge is one strange woman. I struggled through the better part of this novel without interest. View all 23 comments. Apr 13, Ron Charles rated it it was amazing Shelves: Even the title of this novel is marinated in bile. In our lives of quiet desperation, the woman upstairs is who we are, without a goddamn tabby or a pesky lolloping Labrador, and not a soul registers that we are furious. Wherever she digs, she hits rich veins of indignation. Her new book is an entirely different creature: It starts with an 8-year-old boy.

Reza Shahid is an adorable student from France who joins her third-grade class for a year. An Italian married to a Lebanese academic, Sirena is an up-and-coming installation artist. The two women immediately become friends. Those disparate art projects suggest what separates these two very different women. Between the heaves of storm, Nora can be an engaging commentator on everything from aesthetics to international relations to aging.

Even as that psychological drama races toward a dark climax, Nora seduces us with her piercing assessment of the way young women are acculturated, the way older women are trapped. A more polemic, far less enjoyable novel would hand us the answer. Mar 04, Nadosia Grey rated it it was ok Shelves: This book was totally different from what I imagined it to be. The writing constantly threw me off. This book is the epitome of run on sentences. I think there needs to be smaller sentences with more meaning.

Stringing sentences together with semicolons does not emphasize a point better. Sadly though, not even a reworking of the writing style could save this book. The story is amazingly bland. Wom This book was totally different from what I imagined it to be. Woman meets a family that she falls in love with and spends the rest of the novel ruminating over it. The main character confuses me greatly. She should shut up and let the reader decide.

She constantly tries to associate herself with being a woman upstairs, but her actions throughout the book prove to be contradictory—an aspect of the book that I probably liked better than anything else. Overall, I did not like it. Not the writing, not the plot, and not the character the other ones were ok. When is a book a piece of art, or a literary masterpiece without art as part of the equation, or just a novel?

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This book is not really the story of a lonely, year-old single school teacher in Cambridge Massachussets. Nora Eldridge is the protagonist who by cheer coincidence is challenged to start living, work on her ambition to be an artist, and break away from the monotonous routine with which she meandered though life, with an almost emotional sterile reserve against the onslaught of life wh When is a book a piece of art, or a literary masterpiece without art as part of the equation, or just a novel?

Nora Eldridge is the protagonist who by cheer coincidence is challenged to start living, work on her ambition to be an artist, and break away from the monotonous routine with which she meandered though life, with an almost emotional sterile reserve against the onslaught of life which resulted in her ending up being totally on her own as The Women Upstairs. That's the storyline, the fragile skeleton that is supporting the structural building blocks of emotions that started out with pure definitions of love, friendship, trust, loyalty, and bonding, and ended up in pure totally justified rage - all consuming, almost uncontrollable destruction of everything she ever accepted in her life as good and pure.

I was really captured by this book, although I initially felt uneasy with the cynism and neediness in Nora's conduct, until I figured out that I did not feel comfortable with this book because I was afraid of becoming her. The feelings of loss and hopelessness flowed beneath her choices up to a point where she no longer could ignore or deny it. And then the rage came, and she finally understood what it took to really live. It took one year of radical changes in her life to kick-start a revolution with the vast energy of a volcanic mental and emotional eruption.

It's the only way stars are born in our personal universes. It was a sad literary read, honestly. But at the same time it was one of the most brilliant books, truly a piece of work art, that I have come across. That's all I want to say about this book. It is a deeply touching experience. Five stars for that!