Cilla is starting to realize that there are no earthly rewards for dutiful daughters: her hypercritical mother doesn't appreciate her devotion and her personal life is nonexistent. So when her brother-in-law invites her to Italy to help out with her niece, it seems like the escape she's been waiting for. But Hannah isn't the little girl she remembers; she's grown into a confident young woman with a vibrant social life. And despite the exotic new setting, Cilla is still just herself. She finds herself drawn to one of Hannah's friends and, desperate for some kind of change, pursues him. She tries to maintain a calm facade, but she is filled with a turmoil she can't bear to look at too closely. Cilla's pain is palpable, but everyone ignores it — even she ignores it. The fact that her reckoning is expected doesn't make it any less devastating. Jacobs's deliberately cool voice transforms the classic narrative of a duty-bound "extra woman" into a haunting meditation on female desire and the particular cruelties women face as they age. The Worst Kind of Want depressed me for weeks, but I loved it — Liska Jacobs is an author I always want to read! Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A Best Book of Fall at Esquire, Vulture, and Cosmopolitan
Most Anticipated at CrimeReads, Pop Sugar, The Millions, The Palm Beach Post, and Lit Hub
A Best Book of the Week at New York Post
A trip to Italy reignites a woman's desires to disastrous effect in this dark ode to womanhood, death, and sex
To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that's starting to feel like one long decline.
Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece, Hannah. But after years of caregiving, babysitting is the last thing Cilla wants to do. Instead she throws herself into Hannah's youthful, heedless world — drinking, dancing, smoking — relishing the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. After years of feeling used up and overlooked, Cilla feels like she's coming back to life. But being so close to Hannah brings up complicated memories, making Cilla restless and increasingly reckless, and a dangerous flirtation with a teenage boy soon threatens to send her into a tailspin.
With the sharp-edged insight of Ottessa Moshfegh and the taut seduction of Patricia Highsmith, The Worst Kind of Want is a dark exploration of the inherent dangers of being a woman. In her unsettling follow-up to Catalina, Liska Jacobs again delivers hypnotic literary noir about a woman whose unruly desires and troubled past push her to the brink of disaster.
"Jacobs's intoxicating second novel is a love letter to Italy and an evocative study of grief and desire . . . Jacobs's haunting portrait of one woman's transformative and, ultimately, tragic summer will linger with readers."
"Womanhood. Death. Sex. A risky flirtation with a teenage boy. In Jacobs's latest novel, she weaves together desire and disaster as a burned-out 40-something throws herself into the nightlife of teenagers in the heat of the Italian summer. Sounds like . . . she predicted my future?"
"Dark, seductive . . . Noirish and sexy, this provocative novel explores what it's like to be a woman on the edge, and what happens when dreams are deferred for too long." Esquire
"This crispy biscotti of a novel is about a producer who goes to Italy, has a scandalous relationship, and decodes not just the meaning of life but also the meaning of death, sex, dance clubs, and emoji. You'll feel indecent reading it in public." Vulture
About the Author
Liska Jacobs is the author of Catalina, and her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and The Hairpin, among other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside.