Barbara de la Cuesta on her book “The Artful Lodger”

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What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The Artful Lodger was published in 2009

What’s the book’s first line? 

“They were just starting supper when Carrie’s ex walks in.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

He divorced her, married her friend Em, and moved four stops down the Lackawanna line, so why has he gotten off the train at the old stop and come drunkenly into Carrie’s kitchen at dinnertime?   Of course she’s angry, and of course Hester, her childhood friend, newly separated from her husband, who shares the old house with her, is amused and invites him to stay for dinner, and of course he gets sick and malingers in her spare room

The strange symptoms last exactly three weeks.  Carrie ignores him and starts an affair with a younger man.  Hester tells him droll stories of married life in the wealthy exurbs.  Then everything changes…

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

This opening scene actually happened to a friend of mine.  It made me laugh and stayed in my mind long enough to become a book.  Robin’s  troubles also come from my own experience with a mentally ill child.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

I love women’s stories.  Their lives can become so absurd, their heroism so unlike a man’s—even though Ned, in this story, displays the kind of vulnerability that only two woman can help him with.  We need to keep telling our stories and listening, reading, those of other women.