tonics

by rantywoman

Or perhaps the book is more nuanced than I suspect:

http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/30/claire-messuds-the-woman-upstairs-is-a-tonic-for-the-lonely-3814744/

Nora Eldridge, a US primary school teacher, is single and 37 when her story begins and has also grasped that 37 is an age of reckoning: ‘The time at which you have to acknowledge that your life has a horizon… that you will never be president, or a millionaire, and if you’re a childless woman, you will quite possibly remain that way.’

Eldridge has other cultural touchstones: an artist in her spare time, she is making a miniature version of Emily Dickinson’s bedroom, while she is also possessed by the Chekhov short story The Black Monk. Her name, too, is a clear reference to Nora from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, while the novel’s title, The Woman Upstairs, could be read as a riff on the Victorian cultural obsession with the mad woman in the attic.

In other words, Messud has written a novel not just about a single childless woman in her late thirties, but how women who live alone, or who are trapped by their domestic lives, have been represented – and thus further trapped – throughout history. Nora, bright, educated, and stingingly self aware, is alert to this too.

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