Woman No. 17
by Edan Lepucki
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hogarth (May 9, 2017)
A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California
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.
“In Woman No. 17, Lepucki has crafted an intricate, gripping story of people behaving very badly. You will want to race to the end to see what happens, but don’t cheat yourself. This book deserves to be savored –gorgeously written, darkly comic, smart and thrilling.”– CYNTHIA D’APRIX SWEENEY, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
“Woman No. 17 fizzes with references to contemporary culture and sparks with larger, timeless questions: Where is the line between performance and identity? What separates life from art? And can we ever escape the gravitational pull of our parents? Edan Lepucki shows herself to be a sharp-eyed chronicler of our modern world.”– CELESTE NG, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You
“Woman No. 17 is a provocative and timely meditation on art, authenticity and representation in a digital age. The increasingly gripping plot suggests the outcomes of a thriller, but at the crucial moment the novel swerves toward subtly profound truths about our capacity for self-sabotage and self-reinvention, the power of trauma to shape lives, and the inexorable gravity of family secrets. Lepucki’s smooth prose and deft handling of point of view reveal a writer fully in command.”
—MATTHEW THOMAS, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
“Taut as a thriller (with plenty of sex and secrets), Woman No. 17 raises big questions about identity, art, ethics, parenthood, and more. In Edan Lepucki’s hands, the philosophical is transformed into a page turner; I don’t know how she does it.” –RUMAAN ALAM, author of Rich & Pretty
I knew she didn’t go by her full name, but “S” felt so pretentious, as if she’d rebranded herself at sleep-away camp.
Karl said it was like dancing at a wedding. ‘If you really want to, go ahead… but you’ll regret those moves the next morning.’
It made me think of his days as a newborn, when he was covered like a leaf in tiny fine hairs, and I’d wondered if I’d given birth to a marmoset.
My mom once told me she’d never been loyal to a specific hard liquor. She said vodka made her buzz and gin made her float and tequila made her tingle. Bourbon made her cry. The way I felt now was so good I was ready to marry Jose Cuervo, though I’d probably question that commitment come dawn.
Woman No. 17 was an addictive, unpredictable, and intriguing read that was rich with vibrant, complex, and eccentric characters who were vividly described in amusing detail. I had a difficult time putting my kindle down to attend to those pesky tasks and loathsome interruptions to reading such as sleep, meals, and husband. I was instantly attracted to Ms. Lepucki’s clever writing style the unconventional personas and eccentricities of each and every character. I was fascinated by their stories and hard-bitten to solve the mystery of Seth’s mutism. My only grievance with the story was with the ending, or rather, the lack of one.
EDAN LEPUCKI is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel California as well as the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me. A contributing editor and staff writer at the Millions, she has also published fiction and nonfiction in McSweeney’s, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Cut, and elsewhere. She is the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles.