New on the bookshelf: “Lady of the Snakes” now in paperback
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I asked Rachel to talk a little about the book. And, yes, the name Pastan has appeared here before. A few posts back I wrote about Rachel’s mother, Linda, who is a lovely poet and friend. You might be interested in seeing what Rachel has written about being a writer who is the daughter of a writer.
Here is what Rachel said about “Lady of the Snakes.”
“When I was expecting my first child I knew life was going to change, but after she was born I was astonished by how hard it could be to get through a day, even though I adored her. How could I make dinner, or take a shower, let alone get any writing done? When would I use my mind again, or do the work I loved?
“So I did what I always do when life surprises me: I looked around for novels that would reflect my experience back to me, to help me comprehend my life and feel less alone. To my dismay, I couldn’t find any. I decided that, when I could find some time, I would write the novel I had so much wanted to read.
“’Lady of the Snakes’ is the story of a young Russian literature professor, Jane Levitsky, with a young child. Jane is trying to find out the truth about the life and death of the wife of a famous 19th-century Russian novelist, while at the same time negotiating child care, outwitting a sly competitor, caring for a sick kid, and dealing with a Python-wearing graduate student. There’s a mystery here, and academic sleuthing, but at heart the book is about how you live when you’re torn between your passion for your work and your love for your family. Jane’s story isn’t my story, but her sense of being racked is mine.
“Many things have changed in the years since I began to write this book, and more novels featuring mothers of young children have appeared, but I’m amazed by how fraught the conversation about work and family can still be. I hope that, by telling one woman’s story, ‘Lady of the Snakes’ will offer both entertainment and solace.”