Woman No. 17

Hogarth: Crown. May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9781101904251. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101904268. F
The title sounds like this is the next Girl on the Train-style thriller, but it's not. Woman No. 17 is the name of a photograph by renowned artist Kit Daniels, and Lady Daniels is its subject. Now estranged from Kit's brother, Karl, Lady is struggling to raise her toddler Devin as well as her 18-year-old son Seth from a previous relationship. Seth is mute, and his relationship with Lady is complicated. Lady hires a young nanny, who goes by "S," to care for Devin while Lady ostensibly pens her memoir (but actually spends more time obsessing over Twitter). S has her own issues, and a plan to make her mark in the art world. It involves channeling her mother, an outspoken alcoholic. Along the way, Lady and S develop a strange, shallow friendship. To further complicate matters, S and Seth also have a connection. In her second novel (after California), Lepucki has something to say about mothers and children, and possibly art, but it's a mixed message and not convincing.
VERDICT Those with a high tolerance for unlikable women or an interest in the artistic process may be intrigued enough to read to the end. [See Prepub Alert, 11/27/16.]
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