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The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

The Woman Upstairs

By Claire Messud

I'm halfway through my life, or maybe more, and I'm finally awake to the fact that it's in my hands alone. I've believed in other people, had faith, been patient, waiting for my moment -- enough, already. Who have I been kidding? Nora Eldridge has always been a good girl: a good daughter, colleague, friend, employee. She teaches at an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the children and the parents adore her; but her real passion is her art, which she makes alone, unseen. To be an artist is, she is sure, her real destiny. Then one day Reza Shahid appears in her classroom: eight years old, a perfect, beautiful boy. Reza's parents are on a year-long visit from Paris: Skandar, his father, has a fellowship at Harvard; Sirena, his mother, is a glamorous installation artist apparently on the brink of huge success. For that magical year, Nora is admitted into their charmed circle, and everything is transformed. Or so she believes. As it turns out, her liberation from the benign shackles of her old life is not quite what it seems, and she is about to suffer a betrayal more monstrous than anything she could have imagined.

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