When the World Was Steady

A Novel

Claire Messud (Author)


A PEN/Faulkner Award finalist about two sisters’ divergent paths, from the author of The Burning Girl and The Emperor’s Children.

In this highly acclaimed novel, life isn’t all Emmy and Virginia Simpson anticipated. When Emmy’s marriage to an Australian man ends, she flees her home in Sydney to “find herself” on the island of Bali—only to become embroiled with a crew of international misfits and smugglers. Her prim and pious sister, Virginia, meanwhile, has never wandered far outside of London. Struggling to find meaning, she follows her aging mother’s advice to vacation on the Isle of Skye. On these two islands halfway around the world, the middle-aged sisters confront the costs of self-knowledge and their destinies with unexpected consequences.

“A novelist of unnerving talent.”—New York Times Book Review

“[Messud] has the daring and assurance to take on Iris Murdoch–like questions about goodness and truth.”—The New Yorker

“Beautiful. . . . [Messud] has the imagination, the craft and the understanding of human nature to write about anything she chooses.”—Chicago Tribune

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35509-3
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 368 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Also by Claire Messud All

  1. Book CoverThe Burning Girl: A Novel


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