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My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

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Grace Gummer

15 Hours 37 Minutes

HarperAudio

March 2020

Audio Book Summary

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).

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Reviews

  • Casey B.

    While this novel is wonderfully written and it’s an easy read for a collection of long walks, I found it too triggering. The flashbacks of the abuser and the abused are well done because it’s from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl who is being seduced by a grown man, but because she is romanticizing it, the narration is actually rather hard to listen to.

    Book Rating

  • Elizabeth R.

    An excellent read, albeit a difficult subject matter. I couldn't stop listening. More so than anything else I've read, this book brings home just how damaging child sexual abuse is and how long term the repercussions are.

    Book Rating