The Lunar Housewife

Doubleday. Jun. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780385547833. $28. THRILLER
It’s the mid-1950s, and Louise Leithauser is an aspiring novelist who works for Downtown magazine, a Playboy-esque publication featuring stories, interviews, and pin-up photos. She’s hardworking, capable, and a skilled writer, but being a woman means not being taken seriously in the sexist world of publishing, and it doesn’t help that Joe, one of the magazine’s co-editors, is her boyfriend. When she overhears an unusual conversation between Joe and his partner, Harry, her interest is piqued, but when she asks about it, they both stonewall her. Louise finally gets the break she’s been waiting for: Ernest Hemingway agrees to an interview, but only if the interviewer is a “girl.” Hemingway is surprisingly affable, and their candid conversation about Cuba, communism, and American politics turns into an excellent article—which Joe and his partner Harry edit into a generic, politically neutral puff piece. Soon, Louise is putting together the pieces—and wondering if Joe is working for the CIA.
VERDICT Woods (Fraulein M) intersperses chapters from Louise’s manuscript throughout her story, giving readers a clear view of how subversive her thoughts and beliefs are. An engrossing tale of a talented young woman longing to break free from the restrictive gender roles of the 1950s; ideal for fans of Anna Pitoniak and Suzanne Rindell.
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