Today’s featured book is an e-Galley from NetGalley: The New Neighbor, by Leah Stewart.
Intro: Where before there was no one, suddenly I, Margaret Riley, have a neighbor. I went out on the back deck this morning like every morning, and there she was. Across the pond, sitting on her own back deck. I was startled. That house has been empty a long time. My first impulse was to go back inside, as if I’d come upon something shameful, or embarrassed myself. As if I were out there naked, which of course I wasn’t, and even if I had been she was too far away to see. But I am braver than that. I put my coffee cup on the table, as usual, and then I went back inside for my book, which is by P. D. James, a remarkable woman, as ancient as I am and still creating mysteries. I have to make two trips because I need one hand for the cane. Sometimes I try to manage cane and book and coffee all at once, and the result is always coffee stains, or burns, or at the very least a wet book and a diminished cup of coffee. Every morning I’m frustrated anew by the need to make two trips. Impatience and age are not compatible.
Teaser: I was surprised, when she was gone, by a twinge of loneliness. How silly. I am always alone. Sometimes days go by in which the only other people I see are on TV. This house is in the woods between two small towns—villages, really—on a mountain in Tennessee. (2%).
Blurb: In the tradition of Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, The New Neighbor is a darkly sophisticated novel about an old woman’s curiosity turned into a dangerous obsession as she becomes involved in her new neighbor’s complicated and cloaked life.
Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is content hiding from the world. Stoic and independent, she rarely leaves the Tennessee mountaintop where she lives, finding comfort in the mystery novels that keep her company, that is, until she spots a woman who’s moved into the long-empty house across the pond.
Jennifer Young is also looking to hide. On the run from her old life, she and her four-year-old son Milo have moved to a quiet town where no one from her past can find her.
In Jennifer, Margaret sees both a potential companion in her loneliness and a mystery to be solved. But Jennifer refuses to talk about herself, her son, his missing father, or her past. Frustrated, Margaret crosses more and more boundaries in pursuit of the truth, threatening to unravel the new life Jennifer has so painstakingly created—and reveal some secrets of her own.
I have been eager to read this book for a while. Perhaps the draw for me is the reference to Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal…or maybe it’s because an aging woman living alone is suddenly stunned to have a neighbor, and I am curious about what will unfold. What will she do about this new fact?
Would you keep reading?