Synopses & Reviews
PRAISE FOR LADY OF THE SNAKES
"Rachel Pastan is a writer of immense intelligence and charm, and the delightful Lady of the Snakes beautifully showcases her talent."--Hilma Wolitzer, author of Summer Reading and Hearts
"Both a clever academic novel and a cunning literary detective story, Lady of the Snakes is perhaps most remarkable in its unflinching and compassionate portrait of its heroine, a young woman struggling to manage the competing demands of marriage, motherhood and career. This is a marvelous, fearless book."Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausens Pier and Songs Without Words
"With wry humor and refreshing candor, Rachel Pastan depicts the triumphs and travails of a working mother; an academic whose scholarly research reveals with startling clarity just how far women have come and how far we've still to go. Lady of the Snakes is a smart, witty, and gutsy novel." -- Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment and Hester Among the Ruins
"The woes of being a scholarly mom are highlighted in this highbrow chick lit entry from Pastan (This Side of Married). Jane Levitsky's research concerns Maria (Masha) Karkova, the fictional, gifted wife of the fictional philandering genius of 19th-century Russian literature, Grigory Karkov. Jane is in her first year of a tenure-track job at the competitive University of Wisconsin Madison as she struggles to untangle the web of intrigue surrounding Masha and Grigory. Husband Billy has moved with her from California along with toddler daughter Maisie, but Jane doesn't have much time for either of them, a fact of which live-in nanny Felicia is well aware. Further, Jane's office is next door to the professor she has been hired to replace, the irascible but charming Otto Sigelman, who was responsible for bringing Karkov's literary works to light; though he's meant to be retired, Otto is still very much invested in the reputation of his literary hero, and Jane's researches may be a threat. Fast-paced, well-written and entertaining, Pastan's latest has a winning feminist twist and should turn up in more than a few faculty lounges." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[I]t is Pastan's understanding of the real-life tortures that juxtapose the true beauty of being a mother against a woman's inner ambitions, as well as her ability to write in several voices, that make this novel noteworthy. Perfect for book club discussion, Lady of the Snakes
is a flawed, but wholly enjoyable novel." Danielle Marshall, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
Jane Levitsky is a bright light in the field of nineteenth-century Russian literature, making her name as an expert on the novels of Grigory Karkov and the diaries of his wife, the long-suffering Masha Karkova. Jane is also wife to sweet, reasonable Billy and mother to lovable (if demanding) Maisie, roles shes finding surprisingly challenging to juggle along with her ambitions. But when Jane uncovers evidence that Masha may have been more than muse and helpmeet to her famous husband, she seizes her ticket to academic superstardom. Little does she know that she has set in motion a chain of events that will come perilously close to unraveling both her marriage and her career. Lady of the Snakes will be instantly familiarand instantly unforgettableto anyone who has ever felt torn between two worlds.
Jane Levitsky is a bright light in the field of 19th-century Russian literature. Seizing her ticket to academic superstardom, she sets in motion a chain of events that will come perilously close to unraveling both her marriage and her career.
Lady of the Snakes
is the story of Jane Levitsky, a nineteenth-century Russian literature scholar and rising star in her field, whose passion for her work runs into conflict with her commitment to her husband and her young daughter. Jane studies the diaries Masha Karkova, wife of the famous (fictional) nineteenth-century novelist, Grigory Karkov. When Jane lands a good job at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, she encounters a number of obstacles to her professional progress. Maisie, a difficult and asthmatic toddler, requires more attention than Jane feels able to give. Janes husband Billy shares domestic responsibilities, but he grows increasingly angry that Jane seems to care more about her work than about her family. Otto Sigelman, a crotchety, brilliant, old-school Karkov scholar who does not like Janes feminist approach, does his best to impede her career.
In the course of her studies, Jane uncovers some evidence that Masha may have killed herself rather than dying in childbirth, as previously believed. While Jane unravels the mystery of Masha and the past, her own life is falling apart.
About the Author
Rachel Pastan is the author of This Side of Married. Her short fiction has earned a number of awards, including a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize. She lives with her family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and teaches at Swarthmore College and the Bennington Writing Seminars.