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Ashley Audrain on bringing rage from the group chat to the page

By Kobo • January 24, 2024Kobo in Conversation Podcast

"There was a lot of regret about the way people were parenting, and that's what my mom friends were talking about the most. That's what was on the text chains: a lot of confessions about anger and rage.

And that really worked its way into this book."

Nathan spoke with novelist Ashley Audrain, author of the 2021 international bestseller The Push. Her new book The Whispers is a story about marriage, mothers and motherhood and parenthood generally, and also women’s rage.

The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

On Harlow Street, the well-to-do neighborhood couples and their children gather for a barbecue as the summer winds down. Everything is fabulous until Whitney, the picture-perfect hostess, explodes in fury because her son disobeys her. Everyone at the party hears her exquisite veneer crack—loud and clear. Before long, that same young boy falls from his bedside window in the middle of the night. And then his mother can only sit by her son’s hospital bed, where his life hangs in the balance.

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Reading books by women featuring the dark interior lives of women was key to Ashley Audrain's beginnings as a novelist:

"I was not a thriller reader. I was really more of a women's fiction and literary fiction reader. That category was foreign to me, but I was working in publishing at the time [...] In that time Gone Girl was out, and when I started writing it was 2015 [...] I'd read some of [The Girl on the Train] on submission before it came out [...] And there was another book by an author who's now passed: A. S. A. Harrison's The Silent Wife [...] I really loved that book [...] I don't know that I thought I could replicate that, but I think what those books did for writers like me was grant permission to write from the voice of a dark female narrator."

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