Suffering and sacrificing might seem to be commonalities between being an artist and being a mother. Suffering for art may seem like a prerequisite for a genius finished project, but sometimes suffering can actually stifle it from existing, as in Edan Lepucki’s Woman No. 17.
Lady Daniels wants to focus on writing her memoir about the unique experience of parenting her nonspeaking, 18 year old son Seth. After initiating a trial separation from her husband she needs some help to look after her two and a half year old son Devin and hires Esther Fowler, who prefers to be called S. Artistically inclined, S has committed to her latest performance work, which has an effect of drawing in the Daniels family members, but particularly Lady who has lacked friends to confide in. While Lady desperately tries to hold her relationship with Seth close, S is forming a secret, tenuous relationship with Seth that would undermine their arrangement and harm the bonds they have with those they care most about.
Including various mediums of artistic expression and demonstrating the passion the respective characters had for their art was an enjoyable part of the narrative; however, the characters as a whole were rather insufferable and annoying – they were self-involved and self-destructive, but not in a way that was I-need-to-keep-reading captivating to read, which is a shame because they had potential to be genuinely intriguing. There was a bit too much coincidence involved in the personal connections presented throughout to be believable as much more than devices to keep moving the plot forward. While there was some beautiful language throughout the novel, the dialogue seemed a bit too “perfect” or scripted rather than realistic.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.