On the Inspiration behind her new novel, A Window Opens
I wanted to write a book about women at a certain stage of life. I’m 41, and I noticed that all the books that I was reading about women who were supposed to be my age felt very cartoonish. They were either soccer moms, domestic goddesses and exercise mavens, or high-powered career moms with briefcases and heels and power suits, all ambition, all career—never a combo of both. For me, reading about these “either-or” women is a little bit like shopping at stores where the clothing looks nice but doesn’t quite fit. It’s that feeling of, “who thought this was right for me?” In my personal life and my work life, I know very few women who fit neatly into either of those categories. Most of us have a messy combination of both. I wanted to write a book that encompassed all that complexity and also depicted a middle-aged woman as someone who’s happy to be at her specific moment in life and is struggling because of events not entirely of her own making.
Elisabeth’s Fall Book Picks
The first book I’d recommend is Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford. I’d describe it as Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, but after graduation. It’s a book about a striving recent college graduate who moves to New York City. She tries to break into this blue blood world that she’s never been a part of with exciting and stressful consequences.
Another book I’m really excited about is The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore. It is about a family in Northern California, just outside of San Francisco. It’s about the stress of the next phase of life, as parents are about to launch their child into the world. The oldest daughter is getting ready to apply to college. Everyone in the family is under pressure for a million different reasons and they’re all lying to each other about various things.
I love Jennifer Weiner’s new book, Who Do You Love. It’s about two people, a boy and a girl, who meet in a hospital in Florida as kids. They reunite as teenagers and it’s this love story that spreads over 20 years and ends, well, I don’t want to give away too much, but it ends perfectly.
A tiny, perfect little book that I read yesterday and loved is by a writer named Maile Meloy, called Devotion. The book can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s about a woman who is very proud of herself for being able to afford to buy her own house and when she moves in, she discovers the house is infested with rats. It’s like a creepy ghost story, but it’s not ghost story.