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The Woman Upstairs par [Messud, Claire]
Publicité sur l'appli Kindle

The Woman Upstairs Format Kindle

4.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client

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Format Kindle, 30 avril 2013
EUR 8,09

Longueur : 321 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
Page Flip: Activé Langue : Anglais

Description du produit

Extrait

Chapter 1
 
How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know about that.
 
I’m a good girl, I’m a nice girl, I’m a straight- A, strait- laced, good daughter, good career girl, and I never stole anybody’s boyfriend and I never ran out on a girlfriend, and I put up with my parents’ shit and my brother’s shit, and I’m not a girl anyhow, I’m over forty fucking years old, and I’m good at my job and I’m great with kids and I held my mother’s hand when she died, after four years of holding her hand while she was dying, and I speak to my father every day on the telephone— every day, mind you, and what kind of weather do you have on your side of the river, because here it’s pretty gray and a bit muggy too? It was supposed to say “Great Artist” on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say “such a good teacher/daughter/ friend” instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL.
 
Don’t all women feel the same? The only difference is how much we know we feel it, how in touch we are with our fury. We’re all furies, except the ones who are too damned foolish, and my worry now is that we’re brainwashing them from the cradle, and in the end even the ones who are smart will be too damned foolish. What do I mean? I mean the second graders at Appleton Elementary, sometimes the first graders even, and by the time they get to my classroom, to the third grade, they’re well and truly gone—they’re full of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry and French manicures and cute outfits and they care how their hair looks! In the third grade. They care more about their hair or their shoes than about galaxies or caterpillars or hieroglyphics. How did all that revolutionary talk of the seventies land us in a place where being female means playing dumb and looking good? Even worse on your tombstone than “dutiful daughter” is “looked good”; everyone used to know that. But we’re lost in a world of appearances now.
 
That’s why I’m so angry, really—not because of all the chores and all the making nice and all the duty of being a woman—or rather, of being me—because maybe these are the burdens of being human. Really I’m angry because I’ve tried so hard to get out of the hall of mirrors, this sham and pretend of the world, or of my world, on the East Coast of the United States of America in the first decade of the twenty- first century. And behind every mirror is another fucking mirror, and down every corridor is another corridor, and the Fun House isn’t fun anymore and it isn’t even funny, but there doesn’t seem to be a door marked EXIT.
 
At the fair each summer when I was a kid, we visited the Fun House, with its creepy grinning plaster face, two stories high. You walked in through its mouth, between its giant teeth, along its hot-pink tongue. Just from that face, you should’ve known. It was supposed to be a lark, but it was terrifying. The floors buckled or they lurched from side to side, and the walls were crooked, and the rooms were painted to confuse perspective. Lights flashed, horns blared, in the narrow, vibrating hallways lined with fattening mirrors and elongating mirrors and inside- out upside- down mirrors. Sometimes the ceiling fell or the floor rose, or both happened at once and I thought I’d be squashed like a bug. The Fun House was scarier by far than the Haunted House, not least because I was supposed to enjoy it. I just wanted to find the way out. But the doors marked EXIT led only to further crazy rooms, to endless moving corridors. There was one route through the Fun House, relentless to the very end.
 
I’ve finally come to understand that life itself is the Fun House. All you want is that door marked EXIT, the escape to a place where Real Life will be; and you can never find it. No: let me correct that. In recent years, there was a door, there were doors, and I took them and I believed in them, and I believed for a stretch that I’d managed to get out into Reality—and God, the bliss and terror of that, the intensity of that: it felt so different—until I suddenly realized I’d been stuck in the Fun House all along. I’d been tricked. The door marked EXIT hadn’t been an exit at all.

Revue de presse

“Fantastic. . . . Burst[ing] with rage and desire. . . . Messud writes about happiness, and about infatuation—about love—more convincingly than any author I’ve encountered in years.” —Lionel Shriver, NPR

“A liberation. Messud’s prose grabs the reader by the collar. . . . In this ingenious, disquieting novel, she has assembled an intricate puzzle of self-belief and self-doubt, showing the peril of seeking your own image in someone else’s distorted mirror—or even, sometimes, in your own.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A trenchant exploration into the mercenary nature of artistic creation. . . . Destined to become a cultural benchmark.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Fantastically smart.” —The Washington Post

“Riveting. . . . Messud is adept at evoking complex psychological territory. . . . She is interested in the identities that women construct for themselves, and in the maddening chasm that often divides intensity of aspiration from reality of achievement.” —The New Yorker

The Woman Upstairs dazzles. . . . [Messud is] among our greatest contemporary writers.” —The Miami Herald

“A work of such great emotional velocity.” —Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)

“A liberation. Messud’s prose grabs the reader by the collar. . . . She has assembled an intricate puzzle of self-belief and self-doubt, showing the peril of seeking your own image in someone else’s distorted mirror—or even, sometimes, in your own.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Exhilarating. . . . After the final powerful paragraphs, in which Nora howls in galvanized fury, throw it down and have a drink, or a dreamless nap. Don’t be surprised if you then pick it back up and start all over again. A” —Entertainment Weekly

 “Startling: a psychological and intellectual thriller.” —Los Angeles Times

“Mesmerizing. . . . While it was Messud’s achingly beautiful characters crystallizing midlife that drew me in, it was her grotesque portrait of an inner life free to swell, untethered to the realities of children, a spouse and a mortgage that made me think.” —The Huffington Post 

“Corrosively funny. . . . At a time at which there seems to be plenty for creative women to be angry about, Nora’s rant feels refreshing.”— Vogue

“Engrossing. . . . Think of [Nora] as the woman who leans out: the A student who puts others’ needs first. . . . Through the ensuing drama, which includes one of the more shocking betrayals in recent fiction, Messud raises questions about women’s still-circumscribed roles and the price of success.” —People (A People’s Pick)

“A supremely well-crafted page-turner with a shocker of an ending.” —The Boston Globe

“[Messud has] a literary critic’s knack for marshaling and reverberating themes and, most crucially, a broad and deep empathy. . . . The Woman Upstairs is first-rate: It asks unsettling, unanswerable questions.” —The Denver Post

 “Brilliant. . . . Messud’s cosmopolitan sensibilities infuse her fiction with a refreshing cultural fluidity. . . . The Woman Upstairs brims with energy and ideas.” —NPR

“[Messud] knows how to make fiction out of the clash of civilizations. Her heroines . . . inhabit the inky space between continents, physical and generational. . . . The Woman Upstairs is not a pretty read, but that is precisely what makes it so hard to put down.” —The Economist 

“[Here] are tart meditations on the creative impulse and the artistic ego, on the interplay between reality and fantasy and the often-pitiful limits of human communication. . . . Smoldering.” —Bloomberg Businessweek

“Spellbinding, psychologically acute. . . . How much of Nora’s fantasy is true . . . is the real subject of Messud’s novel. . . . Exquisitely rendered.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Hypnotic. . . . In Nora, Messud has conjured a self-contradictory yet acutely familiar character; we’ve all met someone like her, if we aren’t like her ourselves. . . . Nora does not become monstrous or pathological or even absurd. This, in a way, is her tragedy.” —Salon

“Messud is a tremendously smart, accomplished writer. . . . What the novel does, in spades, is give a voiceless woman a chance to howl.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Bracing. . . . In this fierce, feminist novel, the reader serves as Nora’s confessor, and it’s a pleasurable job to listen to someone so eloquent, whose insights about how women are valued in society and art are sharp and righteous.” —Dallas News 

“A trenchant exploration into the mercenary nature of artistic creation. . . . Destined to become a cultural benchmark.” —The Wall Street Journal

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3679 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 321 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : Reprint (30 avril 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00A1O4L50
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°226.705 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
The Woman Upstairs est une fine étude psychologique de la crise de la quarantaine chez une jeune femme célibataire américaine, Nora, institutrice dans une école élémentaire de Boston. Par un de ses élèves, Reza, elle rencontre ses parents, un brillant universitaire d'origine libanaise vivant en France et professeur invité à Boston, et sa femme, italienne, artiste. Elle s'attache à la famille, dont elle tombe globalement amoureuse, et va partager avec Sirena un atelier où celle-ci prépare une "installation" tandis que Nora fabrique des représentations en miniature mettant en scène des femmes romancières ou poetes. Dans la relation très étroite qu'elle entretient avec chaque membre de la famille, Nora s'épanouit et croit pouvoir réaliser ses ambitions artistiques. Mais la relation va se révéler profondément décevante : ses amis partis, Nora revient à son train train et va découvrir qu'elle a été utilisée par des gens qui ne se souciaient guère d'elle. Elle reste "la femme du dessus", bien gentille, qui passe toujours après les autres.
Cette description de la découverte d'une vie ratée est assez poignante, et l'on se pose, comme la narratrice, à travers les yeux et le récit de laquelle tout est dit, la question de savoir ce qu'elle a bien pu signifier pour ces gens qui l'ont si vite oubliée. Le personnage de Nora fait penser à la Lily Bart de House of Mirth d'Edith Wharton : faute d'avoir une vie propre, elle ne peut que parasiter celle des autres et être instrumentée par eux.

Il y a de quoi faire discuter dans les clubs de lecture. C'est le livre rêvé pour cela.
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Heuheu, some rage depicted in a some 300 pages, not only for women, but for everyone to read and the 'finale' is simply wonderful!

Verkrijgbaar in Nederlandse vertaling "De vrouw van hierboven", cfr De Standaard der Letteren (20/9/2013)omschreven als "Fijnzinnig en thematisch rijk, goed opgebouwd met prachtige zinnen."
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards)

Amazon.com: 3.3 étoiles sur 5 756 commentaires
309 internautes sur 326 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Whistling to Our Graves 15 juin 2013
Par Tanya Willow - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Most of the reviews of the book are overly harsh or overly praising. It's a pretty good book, and as some have complained, with sections that are a little drawn out and repetitive.

The criticism I think that is without merit is that the character isn't likable. The character is an accurate human portrait and if any of us were laid to bare the way this character honestly expresses her feelings and thoughts, I think we too would be less than likable.

Years ago I heard this woman explain an entire attitude of certain women as the ``smugly married." It's easy to look down your nose at her if you have all the adornments of female success, the most important of which is that someone has found you sexually desirable enough to marry you. And once you have children, the deal is sealed. You are woman, hear you roar!

But if you got overly fussy, maybe thought something better was coming, or there was a split or almost no suitors and the shadows grow long on the dock, you do sense that you will probably never marry and most certainly now, never have children. This is of course the reality for Nora, the now spinster school teacher, whose mother who loved her is dead and whose aging father needs her. Nora is the utility person. Life's bat boy. The filler of water bottles and cleaner of equipment but never gets to play the game. The center of no one's life but the agent of many lives. A person of talent unexpressed and un-honed which time will turn to mediocrity because it was simply never developed. A person so inconsequential that those she thinks are closest to her will humiliate her if it serves their own ends. And she's angry because now she knows all this with certainty.

Naturally, she has lied to herself about this truth. It's called coping. And this is where the writer I think advances beyond a lot of readers. We all lie to ourselves about some critical truth in our lives. Unless you have caught yourself in some lie on which your identity stands, and then have had some unexpected circumstance bring you right up against that lie so powerfully that it can literally knock you to your knees, you may simply lack the experience to fully appreciate this book. A lot of people don't like the book I think because most of us just keep whistling right to the grave.
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Moving, tender and disturbing-this excels on nearly every level. 9 mai 2013
Par Emma - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I disagree that Nora "is in love with a family that feels itself rootless and homeless," or that "Nora, as a character, is a hoot." I do agree with another reviewer that it is nearly impossible to summarize this novel. Indeed, the Book Description provided by Amazon is so anemic and gives no indication of the gifts this book portends, that I passed it up several times.

I'm glad I didn't. An intense page-turner which catapults the reader to a conclusion that is unexpected, disturbing and authentic, it is a book that will remain long after it is completed.

This book is about love and longing and the extent to which we delude ourselves in our effort to rationalize relationships that are asymmetrical in prestige and social standing. Nora knows she is being used, but bathed in the light of the Shahid's attentions accepts without question what amounts to mere scraps--leftovers of their lives which for Nora are pathetically transformative. Their attentions are gifts that not only give her a sense of self-worth but afford a glimmer of the opportunities that might still available to this woman on the cusp of matronhood. Told with the benefit of hindsight, it is a devastating and poignant story about the extent to which we delude ourselves in the face of attention and desire.

Still, this book is not without its limitations. Stunningly absent was any discussion about the shame and self-mortification one would expect in the face of the Shahid's betrayal not to mention any discussion of Nora's corresponding betrayal to her family. Also, her post-hoc rage was strangely one-dimensional, inconsistent with the insight that had characterized the book up to it's remarkable denouement. Also absent was any discussion of Nora's own ambitions, on which the book was oddly quiescent--surely given Sirena's prominence as an artist one would expect Nora to be at least a little jealous if not yearn for Sirena's approval and encouragement. That the book was silent on this point implies that Nora's talent was pedestrian to non-existent (and that Nora knew it) which is inconsistent to the attraction and apparent community of interest between these two women. Notwithstanding her limitations, Sirena affections still needed to be earned and it is doubtful she would have cultivated Nora simply for her ordinariness.

Finally, I found the first pages which are nothing but a rant about Nora's anger, to be very off-putting as it came without context. I figured that if this was all the book was about, I wasn't interested and nearly abandoned it. I'm glad I didn't. A profound story of subservience, sublimation and longing, it's one of the finest books I've read in a while.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 It took my breath away 11 juin 2013
Par Meemselle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I read. I read a lot. I am constantly on the lookout for books, new authors, somebody with some kind of talent that rises above the perfectly adequate and sometimes good writing I mostly encounter. The review of "The Woman Upstairs" in The New York Times piqued my interest, and with everything else on my Kindle finished, I downloaded it and gave it a shot.

The sense of foreboding, of creepy girl- and then family-crush was just terrific from the start, and I loved that I had no idea where the story was going to go, but I knew it wasn't going to be good, not for poor, terrified Nora. The denouement took my breath away. I physically gasped. I have not had such a visceral reaction to a book in years and I LOVE THAT.

None of the characters are particularly likable, except maybe Didi and Esther, but I have a soft spot for Jamaica Plain lesbians. Nora really is a cipher--she speaks of feelings, and wants, and desires, but there isn't really any "there" there. Her internalization of her mother's fears and her own fear of risk have rendered her emotionally mute. The whole saga of falling in love was so pathetic, because not one of them was worth the passion Nora invested.

I find myself wondering what Nora is doing now with her rage. Does it liberate her? Does it unhinge her? I am longing for a sequel!
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Woman Sleepwalks Through Her Life 31 janvier 2014
Par Lynne Spreen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
At first, I adored this book. Here is an excerpt from the first page; the main character, 40-year-old Nora, says, "It was supposed to say 'Great Artist' on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say, 'such a good teacher/daughter/friend' instead; and what I really want to shout, and in big letters on that grave, too, is F--- YOU ALL."

I was hooked! I even wrote about the same thing into my own novel, Dakota Blues, wherein my protag laments that her headstone would say, "She was a good girl." Aren't we women afraid of this, and don't you suspect it's hugely disproportionate to men feeling the same way?

At the beginning, I was entranced by Claire Messud's writing ability, and as I settled in, I was sure I would be profoundly moved by the storytelling. Some of Nora's thoughts are recognizable in the gut, in a way that is almost impossible to describe. For example, I know EXACTLY what she means when she compares life to a Fun House, but not in a good way, ending with, "I've finally come to understand that life itself is the Fun House. All you want is that door marked EXIT, the escape to a place where Real Life will be; and you can never find it."

Unfortunately, the book didn't turn out to be as compelling as I'd hoped, because it is, unfortunately, somewhat tedious. But it was a worthwhile read nonetheless, and here's why: the entire story is about perception; how people interpret life experiences differently. Warning: spoilers ahead.

Profoundly affected by the perception that her embittered mother had been deprived of the chance to realize her dreams, Nora deludes herself that she is living an independent life, free and unfettered by family, love, or passion. However, we see she's deluded, when her father informs her that her mother (now dead) had been a virtual tyrant, doing exactly what she pleased and directing every aspect of his life. Nora refuses to believe this. When her father laments Nora's solitary lifestyle, Nora thinks he is "unable to see, as my mother would have, that I had almost fulfilled her dream of independence..."

In truth, Nora lives an impoverished life where in the pursuit of such "independence," she avoids attachments of any kind. When in middle-age she learns that her father saw her mother as a benevolent dictator/bully, Nora rejects that depiction as her dad's delusion. But is it? Who is right? And that is a recurring theme throughout this book. What is reality? Who is to say?

Because the unwitting Nora is so hungry, she is drawn into the lives of the aptly named Sirena and her family. Through them she can trick herself into thinking she has love, motherhood, and family. Sirena is an artist, and Nora gives herself over to helping Sirena create her magnum opus. However, she is being used under the guise of friendship. At the end of the story, Nora finally sees, with shattering clarity, that she is nothing but a useful servant, and the book ends with Nora boiling with rage, determined to finally live.

In this sense it's a satisfying character arc. However, the stream-of-consciousness writing and belaboring of specific points makes it a somewhat tedious read. For example, I believe the main purpose for the character of Skandar, Sirena's husband, (Nora's frustrated sexuality aside), is to make the point that reality can be distorted and perceptions unreliable. Fine. However, Skandar goes on at extreme length, lecturing Nora. Here's an example:

"So if you're me, how you deal with that is, I'll look at how we talk about (history). I'll study the history of history, the ways that we tell the stories, and don't tell other stories, and I'll try to understand what it says about us, to tell one story rather than another, to tell it one way rather than another. I'll ask the questions about what is ethical, about who decides what is ethical, I'll ask whether it is possible, really, to have an ethics in the matter of history."

This is only about one-fifth of the discussion. It's difficult to maintain one's attention throughout, especially when I wanted to yell at Nora, "freakin' DO something, Nora, you doormat!" But the story is about a woman living an oblivious life, her perceptions distorted by her mother's influence. Nora sleepwalks through her life, finally realizing in her early forties that she has been played, and her rage is so great I'd hold out little hope that the second half of her life could be healthy, satisfying or normal to any degree.

One side-issue: some disgruntled reviewers have commented on Nora's unlikeability. Could anything be less important? This is a character study. Nora is interesting in that she represents the shriveled husk of an unlived life. Liking her is beside the point.

In summary, I'm fascinated by the idea of women sleepwalking through their lives, and then realizing sometime in the second half the error they've made, and correcting it. This book appealed to me in that sense, but I think it was too long, too self-indulgent, thus Messud risked losing the attention and dedication of her reader.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Brutal, Beautiful, & Certainly Worth Reading 9 janvier 2015
Par CACurtis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
What can I say, this was a strangely infuriating book!

I wanted so desperately for Nora (our "woman upstairs", a tidy allegory of the modern spinster) to gain some positive forward motion in her life, to find purpose, hope and lightness in her endless self-reflection… but she is the embodiment of a darker path.

Overwrought with emotion – rage, sadness, longing, self-pity, narcissism, obsession - her dreams wax and wan without resolution, or perhaps, more accurately, without the desired resolution… All the while her quiet rage builds to bursting because she is living a duality. Her internal life so rich and passionate, and the actual reality she is so very displeased with… A woman who fell prey to the idea of being someone “special”.

Ah, but dearest Nora, you are not a unique snowflake.

At this particular moment, there is no way for me to reflect upon Nora without considering the entirety of her tale... Her final betrayal being at once shocking, deserved, and then unsurprisingly the ultimate the catalyst she so desperately wanted. The very catalyst she built for herself without even realizing it. After all, we are products of our thoughts and desires, and Nora lives so fully in her internal world that it is only fitting that she rages against the betrayal that freed her. Like a petulant child with so much self-obsession and yet so little self-awareness…

How sad to be blind to one’s own truths and intentions.

Let’s hope that we readers take to heart the lessons Nora failed to grasp, that we are fallible human beings and can succumb to our worst selfishness. We can build false worlds within ourselves that erode at our reality.

Choose instead to accept the haughty pride, bursting ego, and desperate longing we all possess in some measure… and make something useful of those desires. Don’t wait for life to hand you what you want. Seek your happiness. And for the sake of those around us, have some compassion!
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