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Mother Daughter Widow Wife (Scribner)

Who is Wendy Doe? The woman, found on a Peter Pan Bus to Philadelphia, has no money, no ID, and no memory of who she is, where she was going, or what she might have done. She’s assigned a name and diagnosis by the state: Dissociative fugue, a temporary amnesia that could lift at any moment—or never at all. When Dr. Benjamin Strauss invites her to submit herself for experimental observation at his Meadowlark Institute for Memory Research, she feels like she has no other choice.

To Dr. Strauss, Wendy is a female body, subject to his investigation and control. To Strauss’s ambitious student, Lizzie Epstein, she’s an object of fascination, a mirror of Lizzie’s own desires, and an invitation to wonder: once a woman is untethered from all past and present obligations of womanhood, who is she allowed to become?

To Alice, the daughter she left behind, Wendy Doe is an absence so present it threatens to tear Alice’s world apart. Through their attempts to untangle the mystery of Wendy’s identity—as well as Wendy’s own struggle to construct a new self—Wasserman has crafted a jaw-dropping, multi-voiced journey of discovery, reckoning, and reclamation.

Searing, propulsive, and compassionate, Mother Daughter Widow Wife is an ambitious exploration of selfhood from an expert and enthralling storyteller.

Praise for Mother Daughter Widow Wife:

"In Wasserman’s timely examination of memory, womanhood and power, Wendy’s daughter sets out to find her mother — and their situation only grows more grave."
Time Magazine

"Wasserman’s sophomore novel is a labyrinthine story about memory, truth, and power, told in two timelines."
Buzzfeed Book Club

"Mother Daughter Widow Wife... dives into hard questions of consent and love and power, what it means to remember, and the appeal of anonymity."

"Wasserman asks big questions about how well we can really know another person, the nature of truth as it relates to memory, and what this all means for how we perceive ourselves... [the novel] ultimately has some great twists and all those questions Wasserman raises make it an excellent book discussion choice."

"Shrewd, beguiling... This examination of how one man in power can abuse the women closest to him delivers the goods."
Publishers Weekly

"For readers of stylish psychological thrillers."
Library Journal

Mother Daughter Widow Wife is suspenseful, keenly intelligent, and thoroughly engrossing. Robin Wasserman’s novel explores the complexities of memory and identity with unflinching clarity and deep compassion.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher

“Mother Daughter Widow Wife is an utterly enthralling piece of music, sharp and soulful and ferociously insightful all at once, uncompromising in its willingness to look at the dark pulse lurking inside every love. This singular, spellbinding novel is not only an investigation of how female intimacy plays out across landscapes shaped by male power and desire, but an exploration of identity itself—the complicated alchemies of narrative, memory, desire, enthrallment and betrayal that compose us all.”
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Recovering and Make It Scream, Make It Burn

“Robin Wasserman’s Mother Daughter Widow Wife is an elegant postulate on the myriad ways we abandon ourselves. Whether disassociating from our bodies during sex, betraying who we believe ourselves to be in a quest to achieve more or losing an entire lifetime of memories, Wasserman’s deft narrative braids her characters’ disparate attempts at escape into a single, moving pluralism: we spend our lives constructing elaborate ‘selves’ only to find that the palaces we’ve built may also be our prisons. Wasserman has a unique gift for describing the turbulent intersection of love and need, hinting that the freedom we seek may only be the freedom to change.”
—Liz Phair, author of Horror Stories

"Mother Daughter Widow Wife is more than a compelling novel; it's a psychological engagement with the pressing question of what it means to occupy a woman's body in 21st century North America. Wasserman has given us the whole package: a book that makes you both think and feel, with a story driven by the radically mysterious movements of the human heart."
—Lydia Peelle, author of The Midnight Cool

“For a novel so steeped in questions of identity, and so engaged in exploring how the roles we inhabit—and are forced to inhabit—inform the construction of self, it’s fitting that Mother Daughter Widow Wife satisfies on a multitude of seemingly incongruent levels: as riveting page-turner; as psychologically rich and emotionally nuanced portrait of intersecting lives; as intellectually dazzling meditation on memory and trauma. As in the novels of Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, and Dana Spiotta, these elements are somehow seamlessly fused. I’d venture the reason is Wasserman’s prose, which moves at the speed of synapses firing, and is spunky and lyrical and beautifully, humanly alive.”
—Adam Wilson, author of Flatscreen and What’s Important Is Feeling

Robin Wasserman is the author of Girls on Fire, an NPR and BuzzFeed Best Book of the Year. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a Master’s in the history of science. She lives in Los Angeles, where she writes for television.

Leslie Jamison is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Recovering and The Empathy Exams, as well as the novel The Gin Closet. A National Magazine Award finalist, she has contributed to publications including the New York Times Magazine, and New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Oxford American. She lives in Brooklyn and directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University.

Heather Havrilesky is New York’s Ask Polly advice columnist and the author of What If This Were Enough (2018), How to Be a Person in the World (2016), and Disaster Preparedness (2010). She maintains the Ask Molly newsletter, written by Polly’s evil twin. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and several loud dependents, most of them non-deductible.

Event date: 
Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Mother Daughter Widow Wife: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982139490
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - July 7th, 2020

Girls on Fire: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062417145
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - February 14th, 2017

Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316259637
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 24th, 2019

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316259583
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Back Bay Books - January 15th, 2019

The Empathy Exams: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976712
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Graywolf Press - April 1st, 2014

What If This Were Enough? Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525434962
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - October 8th, 2019

How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101911587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 27th, 2017

Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781594485466
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - December 6th, 2011