Woman No. 17

Woman No. 17

A Novel

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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"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."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: London ; New York : Hogarth, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101904251
Branch Call Number: FIC LEPUCKI
Characteristics: 310 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Woman number seventeen


From Library Staff

A compelling and suspenseful novel of family intrigue and self-expression led by two mysterious and deeply flawed women.

From the critics

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Jun 08, 2019

I would describe this book as 'meh' at best. A quick and easy read that really only skims the surface of the depth of the characters and the relationships they develop. Is the ending satisfying? Sure. But in a "saw it coming" kind of way that leaves you wanting a bit more.

Karen_Weber Jul 11, 2018

Loved this read! If female-centric reads are something you enjoy, then pick up this book (or, like me, download the audiobook)! Themes include multi generational characters, moms & daughters, modern day technology and social media, and art. Placed in current day southern California, an newly affluent mother needs help with her toddler so she can script a book. Enter the newly graduated live-in nanny. The relationships that develop are modern, unusual, and techy. Mom's 18 year old son, who is non-verbal, is a common factor for both characters.

Jul 22, 2017

There is not one single likable character in this novel : all are self-centered, greedy, manipulative, and do not deserve any sympathy from the reader . Very negative and unhealthy , do not recommend at all.

May 25, 2017

Edan Lepucki’s new novel Woman No. 17 alternates between two characters: Lady, an upper-middle class woman of leisure, and Esther, an art student. Esther works as Lady’s live-in nanny, and the closeness between the two very different women soon makes Lady an object for Esther’s own obsessive artistic interests.

The book focuses on their strange and increasingly bizarre relationship, which often borders on exploitive and manipulative. It is told in dueling viewpoint chapters, in a kind of confessional tone. The revelations are genuinely funny; some are lucidly vulnerable and real. But most are just roll-your-eyes worthy. (I don’t know; perhaps I wasn’t in such a forgiving mood when I was reading the book.) Both women are astonishingly self-aware and also self-deluded—and you feel for them but are also frustrated by them. Both women fixate and reflect on their damaged relationships with their own mothers. In Lady’s case, it makes her confront her own anxieties about being a mother.

What I found compelling in Woman No. 17 is the see-saw tilting of their relationship as the two women get closer. Esther and Lady are more alike than different and it’s in those shocking parallels that things start to get dark and interesting. Esther’s art project is a performance piece that explores her deeply dysfunctional relationship with her own mother. In a kind of method-acting approach, she assumes her mother’s identity, pretending to be a younger version of her, using her same mannerisms and adopting the same idiosyncrasies and bad habits like her mother’s youthful binge drinking. The book’s title refers to a picture in a series taken by the Lady’s sister-in-law, also an artist. The photo shows her in a previous life, when she wasn’t so well-off. She is half-dressed and partially nude. Lady abhors the photo, which reflects her deep-seated anxieties about her inadequacies as a mother.

The relationship between Esther and Lady soon crosses that Rubicon into dark, illicit territory. But this crowning development is ruined because Lepucki’s meandering buildup takes a long time to get there. The result is that you have story that should be psychologically taut and thrilling but instead feels ponderous and sluggish. If you’re expecting some meaty LA-based neo-noir goodness (I was), prepare to be a little disappointed.

Chapel_Hill_ShannonB May 08, 2017

Edan Lepucki’s second novel explores the complicated relationships between mothers and their children, female friendships, the power of art, and deception. The story alternates between the perspectives of two women who are at different stages in their lives, but who are spiraling out of control at the same time. These women are among my favorite types of narrators: unreliable and sometimes unlikeable, self-aware but also self-destructive. A darkish read with some sly humor, Lepuki does a fine job capturing the emotions and insecurities that women experience.


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