We do what we do in the dark

Michelle Hart

Book - 2022

"A novel about a young woman's life-altering affair with a much older, married woman"--

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FICTION/Hart, Michelle
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1st Floor FICTION/Hart, Michelle Due May 31, 2024
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New York : Riverhead Books 2022.
Main Author
Michelle Hart (author)
Physical Description
216 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Hart debuts with a transfixing queer coming-of-age novel about a woman's affair with a much older professor. Mallory Green is in her first year at a college on Long Island shortly after her mother's death from cancer in 2008. There, she becomes fixated on a never-named woman who teaches children's literature. The professor, who is brusque but encouraging in their conversations, invites Mallory over for dinner. Her husband is away, and she makes plain her own attraction to Mallory. Despite feeling "embarrassed, as if she'd written an intense journal entry that she now had to read aloud," Mallory plunges into an affair with her. The woman ends it when her professor husband returns at the end of the semester, leaving Mallory floundering as she attempts to date a male student and later drifts through postgraduation life in New York City. A flashback to Mallory's youth traces her close friendship with a neighbor girl, saturated with frustrated desire. The professor's reappearance four years after graduation, just as Mallory is settling into a new relationship, opens old wounds. Mallory's intense interiority and self-consciousness will remind readers of Sally Rooney's work, and Hart's prose is delicate and piercing. This is auspicious and breathtaking. Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (May)

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Review by Library Journal Review

First-year college student Mallory is mourning her mother's death when she begins an affair with an older married woman who's brilliant, accomplished, and self-assured--everything Mallory wants to be. Having comfortably hidden away in their relationship, Mallory must decide as an adult whether she wants finally to face the world. From the assistant books editor at O, the Oprah Magazine.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A sad and lonely young woman has a formative affair with a married female professor at her college. "The college was mostly a commuter school, and on nights and weekends it was as if two-thirds of the students simply vanished, like the Rapture. Lacking both a car and an interest in bars, Mallory felt at once claustrophobic and isolated, a feeling with which she had been familiar for most of her life." In tightly controlled, flattened prose that seems to match the emotional weather of her protagonist, Hart's debut observes the coming-of-age of Mallory Green. After a post--high school gap year notable only for the death of her mother, Mallory chooses a college because it was the name on a sweatshirt worn by a kindergarten classmate whose younger sibling strangled on a Venetian blind cord: "In his extreme grief, he seemed more interesting to her." She makes no friends, at least at first, but she does have an obsessive relationship with a professor whose husband is out of town for a year. Though Mallory has known she was gay since childhood, this is her first sexual experience. Nonetheless, the mentorship "the woman" (we only ever know her as "the woman") offers has more to do with managing a personality inclined to isolation and misery and occasional meanness than with being gay. "I have slept with other women, yes. But I'm not like you. We are alike in many ways, but not that one," the woman tells her. In fact, she will be getting back together with her husband as soon as he comes home. Mallory asks how they are alike then, though actually she already knows. "You and I," says the woman, "we do what we do in the dark and then we deal with it all alone." Not a #MeToo story; instead, something more delicate and strange and, at this point, more interesting. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.