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My Dark Vanessa
Cover of My Dark Vanessa
My Dark Vanessa
A Novel
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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S BREAKOUT AUTHOR TO WATCH IN 2020"Brilliant and stunning . . . an absolute must read." – GILLIAN FLYNN"A well-constructed package of dynamite." – STEPHEN KINGA most...
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S BREAKOUT AUTHOR TO WATCH IN 2020"Brilliant and stunning . . . an absolute must read." – GILLIAN FLYNN"A well-constructed package of dynamite." – STEPHEN KINGA most...
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  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S BREAKOUT AUTHOR TO WATCH IN 2020

    "Brilliant and stunning . . . an absolute must read." – GILLIAN FLYNN

    "A well-constructed package of dynamite." – STEPHEN KING

    A most anticipated book by The New York Times

  • USA Today
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Marie Claire
  • Elle
  • Harper's Bazaar
  • Bustle
  • Newsweek
  • New York Post
  • Esquire
  • Real Simple
  • The Sunday Times
  • The Guardian

    ONE OF THE MOST BUZZED ABOUT DEBUTS IN YEARS

    AN INTERNATIONAL SENSATION SOLD IN 24 TERRITORIES AND COUNTING

    Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.


    2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

    2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

    Alternating between Vanessa's present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

    Includes a bonus conversation with Kate Elizabeth Russell, Grace Gummer, and Jessica Williams (editor of My Dark Vanessa).

    This audiobook includes an episode of the Book Club Girl Podcast, featuring an interview with Kate Elizabeth Russell about My Dark Vanessa.

About the Author-

  • Kate Elizabeth Russell is originally from eastern Maine. She holds a PhD in creative writing from the University of Kansas and an MFA from Indiana University. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 16, 2019
    Russell offers readers an introspective narrative that fully captures the complexity and necessity of the #MeToo movement in her powerful debut. In the year 2000, Vanessa Wye is a lonely sophomore at Maine’s Browick boarding school. The academically gifted 15-year-old professes not to mind her solitude, especially when her 42-year-old English teacher, Jacob Strane, begins to pay attention to her, remarking on her red hair and fashion sense, and lending her some of his favorite books—including Nabokov’s Lolita. Almost before Vanessa realizes what’s happening, the two have embarked on a sexual relationship, and Vanessa is convinced she’s been singled out as someone truly special—until, under threat of exposure, their relationship begins to go off the rails. Seventeen years later, Vanessa is still occasionally in contact with Jacob, but their relationship has grown tense, as another former student has gone public about his inappropriate advances. Russell’s novel, alternating between past and present, presents a damning indictment of sexual predation, as she starkly elucidates the ways in which abuse robbed Vanessa not only of her childhood but also of her own once-promising future. It also prompts readers to interrogate their own assumptions about victimhood, consent, and agency. This is a frighteningly sharp debut. Agent: Hillary Jacobson, ICM Partners.

  • AudioFile Magazine Grace Gummer masterfully narrates this poignant, disturbing novel set in 2017 and 2001. When the novel opens, 15-year-old Vanessa begins an affair with a charming and manipulative 42-year-old teacher at her Maine boarding school. In 2017, a former student accuses this same teacher of abuse. Gummer becomes both the teenaged Vanessa and the adult Vanessa with a deepening of her voice to depict the adult and a slightly higher, breathier voice for the girl. The listener must decide whether either Vanessa is telling the full truth about the affair--or is remembering events through the lens of trauma. Gummer's fine, suspenseful performance of this breakthrough novel highlights the nuances that often lie beneath accusations of sexual abuse in the age of #MeToo. D.G.P. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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