When the World Was Steady: A Novel (Paperback)
A PEN/Faulkner Award finalist about two sisters’ divergent paths, from the author of The Burning Girl and The Emperor’s Children.
In this highly acclaimed novel, life isn’t all Emmy and Virginia Simpson anticipated. When Emmy’s marriage ends, she flees her home in Sydney to “find herself” on the island of Bali—only to become embroiled with a crew of international misfits and smugglers. Her prim and pious sister Virginia, meanwhile, has never wandered far outside of London. Struggling to find meaning, Virginia follows her aging mother’s advice to vacation on the Isle of Skye. On these two islands halfway around the world, the middle-aged sisters confront the costs of self-knowledge and their destinies with unexpected consequences.
About the Author
Claire Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of five other works of fiction including, most recently, The Burning Girl, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.
Assured and engaging.
— James Marcus
A beautiful, bittersweet story about the painful cost of self-knowledge and the unpredictability of life.
A tenderly ironic double portrait of two hapless middle-aged English sisters who travel to very different islands.
— Joyce Carol Oates
As exceptional in quality as it is in content…an outstanding first novel.