Review: Woman No. 17

An ideal book that doesn’t quite live up to the expectations but great for an light afternoon of reading.


Following BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge, I recently read Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki. I received the book in my May Book of The Month box along with Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, which I will read after I fish Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan.  

What the jacket cover says: A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles…

Lady Daniels and “S” are two women in very different stages of life. Lady Daniels is recently separated from her husband, while S is a recent college graduate looking to leave her mark in the art world (even if she won’t admit it). There’s a mute son, an absent father, plenty of mother issues and a whole lot of complaining.

I generally don’t mind reading books with unlikeable characters, but the two narrators of Woman No. 17 were just too much. Lady Daniels and S were both incredibly self-centered, petty, and forgettable. 

Lady Daniels posts a Craigslist ad looking for a nanny to help look after her youngest son while she writes her memoir about the trials and tribulations of raising a mute son. We soon learn that Lady Daniels enjoys drinking bubbly wine and stalking her son via his Twitter account in an attempt to keep an eye on him.

Esther, who now wants to be called “S” answers Lady’s Craigslist ad and shows up slightly intoxicated and dressed in a poorly fitting dress and a horrid dye job. Being “S” is an elaborate art project—she’s pretending to be her mother, with whom she has a rocky relationship. She drinks too much, says and behaves the way her mother would have at her age and even begins an affair with Lady’s 18-year-old mute son, Seth. 

Both women have secrets they’re desperate to keep buried, yet they are both victims of their own choices. 

What could have been a great book, ended up being a so-so book that’ll be perfect to read poolside or on a plane to faraway places. 

Check it out from the library instead of purchasing.