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Olga Grushin is the author of Forty Rooms, The Line and The Dream Life of Sukhanov, which won the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and earned her a place on Granta's Best Young American Novelists list. It was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Award for First Fiction and the Orange Prize for New Writers, and was one of The New York Times' Notable Books of the Year. Both it and her second novel, The Line, were among the Washington Post's Ten Best Books of the Year. Born in Moscow and having moved to the United States at eighteen, Grushin writes in English and her novels have been translated into fifteen languages. She lives outside Washington, D.C., with her two children.
A powerful, provocative and quite wonderful modern literary fairy tale, but if you enter expecting ‘happily ever after’ you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than sugar and spice and all things nice, you’ll instead find a novel brimming with exquisitely sharp and pointed attitude. Thirteen and a half years after Cinderella married the man of her dreams and she’s had enough, she wants out. The prologue pierces love, and binds hate, firmly setting the tone, yet wicked humour and gentle observations also tickle the page. The echoes of well known fairy tales make themselves felt, adding to the enchantment. There is much to take delight in, yet beware, all magic is paid for and you’ll need to be on the look out for hidden snares. I adore the tale that runs alongside the main story, of the two mice that accompanied Cinderella and live in a world circling through an entire civilisation. How easy it is to view what you want to see, rather than what is actually there. As the fairy tale splinters and a shimmer of reality breaks through, I found my thoughts tossed high in the air, and where they will land, I still don’t know. So bright, so clever, and thought-provoking this just had to sit as a Liz Pick of the Month. I danced through the deep dark magic of The Charmed Wife, long live the fairy tale that lives beyond 'happily ever after'.
*An Oprah Magazine Most Anticipated Book of 2021* *A Woman & Home Top Four Literary Read* *A lovereading.co.uk Star Book* And they lived happily ever after . . . didn't they? Cinderella married the man of her dreams - the perfect ending she deserved after diligently following all the fairy-tale rules. Yet now, two children and thirteen-and-a-half years later, things have gone badly wrong. One night, she sneaks out of the palace to get help from the Witch who, for a price, offers love potions to disgruntled housewives. But as the old hag flings the last ingredients into the cauldron, Cinderella doesn't ask for a love spell to win back her Prince Charming. Instead, she wants him dead. Endlessly surprising and wildly inventive, The Charmed Wife is a sophisticated literary fairy tale for the twenty-first century that weaves together time and place, fantasy and reality, to conjure a world unlike any other. Nothing in it is quite what it seems, and the twists and turns of its magical, dark, swiftly shifting paths take us deep into the heart of romance, marriage and the very nature of storytelling. 'Dark and dreamy. Inside the plot, magic comes and goes. But inside the reader, it's all magic - all of us happily caught in Grushin's hypnotic spell.' - Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club 'Fall under its charms, I dare you' - Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked A powerful, provocative and quite wonderful modern literary fairy tale. I danced through the deep dark magic of The Charmed Wife - long live the fairy tale that lives beyond happily ever after .' - lovereading.co.uk 'Surprising, darkly comedic and enchanting' - CNN 'Genre-bending and darkly comic, Grushin's fourth novel is a weird and wonderful triumph.' - Oprah Magazine
Totally original in conception and magnificently executed, Forty Rooms is mysterious, withholding, and ultimately emotionally devastating. Olga Grushin is dealing with issues of women's identity-of women's choices-that no modern novel has explored so deeply."e;Forty rooms"e; is a conceit: it proposes that a modern woman will inhabit forty rooms in her lifetime. They form her biography, from childhood to death. For our protagonist, the much-loved child of a late marriage, the first rooms she is aware of as she nears the age of five are those that make up her family's Moscow apartment. We follow this child as she reaches adolescence, leaves home to study in America, and slowly discovers sexual happiness and love. But her hunger for adventure and her longing to be a great poet conspire to kill the affair. She seems to have made her choice. But one day she runs into a college classmate. He is sure of his path through life and is protective of her, and they eventually drift into an affair and marriage.What follows are the decades of births and deaths, the celebrations, material accumulations, and home comforts-until one day, her children grown and gone, her husband absent, she finds herself alone except for the ghosts of her youth, who have come back to haunt and even taunt her. Compelling and complex, Forty Rooms is also profoundly affecting, its ending shattering but true. We know that Mrs. Caldwell (for that is the only name by which we know her) has died. Was it a life well lived? Quite likely. Was it a life complete? Does such a life ever really exist? Life is, after all, full of trade-offs and choices. Who is to say her path was not well taken? It is this ambiguity that is at the heart of this provocative novel.
Anna is on her way home from work on a cold winter's day when she sees a crowd queuing at a kiosk. Though a queue is not an unusual sight in a Russian city, this appears different. There's a rumour that famous exiled composer Selinksy is returning to conduct his last symphony for one night only - and this kiosk is selling tickets. The acquisition of tickets to this concert becomes an obsession in Anna's small family. Her husband, a tuba player in a state band, sees the ticket as a way of embarking on an illicit affair. Their son thinks going to the concert will help him flee to the West on Selinksy's coattails. And Anna? She secretly hopes the ticket will make her husband love her again. The Concert Ticket is a heartbreaking novel about the secret, profound longings at the heart of a family struggling in a time of great repression.