Talitha Stevenson An Empty Room: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780786712793

An Empty Room: A Novel

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9780786712793: An Empty Room: A Novel
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Unlike typical coming-of-age novels, An Empty Room looks at youthful cynicism and narcissism seriously. Twenty-seven-year-old Talitha Stevenson does not patronize the emotional lives of her characters with glib humor, coy wit, or fanciful nostalgia. Inspired by her own experience of growing up too fast among families affected by divorce, Stevenson’s debut questions our perceptions of sexual intimacy as an endlessly renewable resource and asks if it is possible to simply use it up. Nineteen-year-old Emily lives a carefree life filled with swinging parties, plenty of drugs and alcohol, and sex with Tom, the seemingly perfect boyfriend. But when the luster of wild nights begins to fade, Emily is left jaded and directionless. Unwilling to accept the only futures she knows—whether it be the misery and jealousy of Tom's divorced parents or the hushed tensions that envelop her own parents' marriage—she begins a quest for a more genuine intimacy. The search leads her into a complex affair with the affable yet mysterious Simon, who is married. As their relationship approaches the breaking point, Emily is forced to make the same decisions regarding love, loyalty, and betrayal that are at the heart of the unraveling relationships of her parents and their friends.

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About the Author:

Talitha Stevenson has lived and studied in London, Oxford and Florence. She has written for the Guardian, amongst other publications. She now lives permanently in London.

From Publishers Weekly:

Stevenson sets up an evocative character study in her effective but occasionally turgid first novel, as she examines the plight of a beautiful, rudderless 19-year-old London girl who uses an affair with an older man to escape a destructive relationship with her boyfriend and make her leap into the adult world. On the surface, the gorgeous Emily has a lifestyle that offers more than enough hedonistic pleasures, including plenty of sex, drugs and alcohol and a freewheeling, intense relationship with her equally handsome but rather aloof beau, Tom. But Tom's charm gives way to some brutal controlling tendencies once the parties begin to wind down, and to find her emotional match Emily turns to Tom's older, married cousin Simon, a successful journalist. The plot follows a familiar emotional arc as Simon and Emily become intimate and Emily wonders whether Simon will leave his lovely but damaged wife, Rachel. Tom hovers menacingly in the background after Emily breaks up with him, and Stevenson lapses into melodrama when Emily tries to deal with Tom's backstabbing, Simon's failure to follow his heart and Rachel's intransigence. The insular nature of the narrative undermines Stevenson's fine work in developing Emily, but the quality character writing bodes well for Stevenson's future.
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