Carla is in her twenties, working for a landscaper, lacking confidence, still unsure what direction her life will take. Viridian is a lauded and lovely ageing poet whose reputation has been defined by her infamous affair with a famous male poet, Mathias, many years earlier. When Carla is hired to work at Viridian's house, she is perplexed by this community of writers: their tendency to recite lines in conversation, the stories of their many liaisons, their endless wine-soaked nights. And still she becomes enamoured with Viridian and her whole circle, and especially with the power of words, the 'ache and hunger that can both be awakened and soothed by a poem', a hunger that Carla feels sharply at this stagnating moment in her young life. At the same time, she sees how even Viridian has had to compromise so much to take her place in the world of letters. And as Viridian’s standing begins to fade, a number of people angle to gain possession of Mathias’s cycle of poems written about Viridian, a cycle he famously burned as he read them. Yet long after Mathias' s death, one copy may still rest with Viridian. If so, why won't she release it?
A wry meditation on art as both transformative and on the ways in which it can be leveraged as commerce, as well as a perceptive examination of the female artist, Jean Thompson’s novel is at once delightfully funny and wise, and will resonate with readers who loved Lily King's Writers & Lovers, Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, and Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise.