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My Dark Vanessa

A Novel
Narrated by: Grace Gummer
Length: 15 hrs and 36 mins
4 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Entertainment Weekly's Breakout Author to Watch in 2020

"Brilliant and stunning...an absolute must read." (Gillian Flynn)

"A well-constructed package of dynamite." (Stephen King)

A most anticipated book by The New York TimesUSA TodayEntertainment WeeklyMarie ClaireElle Harper's BazaarBustle NewsweekNew York PostEsquire Real SimpleThe Sunday TimesThe Guardian

One of the most buzzed-about debuts in years

An international sensation sold in 24 territories and counting

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming listen that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, 15-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful 42-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager - and who professed to worship only her - may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

Includes a bonus conversation with Kate Elizabeth Russell, Grace Gummer, and Jessica Williams (editor of My Dark Vanessa).

©2020 Kate Elizabeth Russell (P)2020 HarperAudio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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Worth the hype!

Pierces to the heart of the 15 year old in all of us. The tension between identifying with the lonely unsure romantic adolescent while simultaneously wanting to shake some sense into her made me physically queasy in parts. A visceral read to be sure but beautifully written and wonderfully narrated. When I finished I immediately went back to revisit the earlier chapters. A rare 5 star review from me. Highly recommended!

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Top 5 best ever -haunting. Order it!!!!

One of the most moving, haunting books I’ve ever read. Audiobook version was incredibly, going to read book also. Just incredible.

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Haunting

This book was beautifully written, confusing, horrific to read at times. It's haunting me. It is so complex, so conflicting. Just brilliant. I'm going to buy it in print so I can lend it to people in order to discuss and unpack. So thought provoking.

Would recommend 100% though may be too hard for some.

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  • Judy George
  • 2020-03-13

I apologize

I returned this book because it was painful and expressed deep concerns about abuse. I bought it back (I owe Audible a credit) because the writing, directing and performance was inspiring, thought provoking, and made me feel things I had long ago pushed down in my psyche! God Bless the team

9 people found this helpful

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  • Timothy McCarthy
  • 2020-03-16

Outstanding.

Russell should, and will, be celebrated as the first author with the courage to treat this subject with the complexity it deserves. Beautifully and thoughtfully done.

6 people found this helpful

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  • bailey
  • 2020-03-20

Wow.

That was amazing. I would give in 15 stars if I could. Eloquently written, consuming tale that will leave you eager to discuss with fellow readers.

2 people found this helpful

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  • angela
  • 2020-03-18

Amazing

A very different perspective. We have heard so many personal stories, especially in the past couple of years, but this one takes you through such an intimate journey of the main characters psyche throughout her life. We are given a new understanding of how someone can process and manipulate their reality in ways that to most seem a completely different circumstance. I believe that Vanessa’s rationality is relatable to more girls and women than we would think.

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  • debhud
  • 2020-03-15

OUTSTANDING

Timeless and timely, this tale, although difficult to read at times, is a must read. I believe every woman has had some type of similar experience whether as a “Dark Vanessa” or as an observer. This is definitely a book for discussion!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-03-12

A little intense

It is very hard to listen to 15 hours of child rape. It is not a bad book by any means and the writing is actually good, it’s just not for me. Not my cup of tea.

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  • Lara M.
  • 2020-03-24

A mesmerizing and gut-wrenching first novel!

I cannot explain how much I loved listening to My Dark Vanessa. Grace Gummer was perfect as the reader. It's unbelievable to think this is Kate Elizabeth Russell's first novel. It is enchanting, mesmerizing, addicting and soul shredding at the same time. This is well worth the read and very relevant. The moral questions of this story will have everyone questioning their questions, past actions, memories and relationships over and over again. This would be a GREAT book club book, the story begs for continued conversation.... HIGHLY RECOMMEND. I walked 35 miles listening to this book in one week. I never wanted to put it down.

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  • ONDREA ROBINSON
  • 2020-03-22

Long and drawn out

I kept waiting for a twist that never came. Weird romanticism of teacher student relationship. Lost interest quickly but continued listening for the twist. There was none.

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  • Dr. Jane B. Finley
  • 2020-03-19

OMG what a book

One of the most incredible books I have read in awhile. How ignorant I was as to how young children are groomed by predators. Brought back memories of my 21 year old very naive self in Grad school. Brought back things I had witnessed as a college professor. How long we all turned blind eye to such stories. Please discuss these situations with your children!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-03-14

New Age Lolita in the time of “Me Too”

Excellent compelling intimate thought-provoking story, told brilliantly by both writer & performer. Great follow up to Jeremy Irons audio book of Lolita!

1 person found this helpful