Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel

Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel

by Caroline Leavitt


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Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt

“A seductive page-turner that ripples with an undercurrent of suspense.” —The Boston Globe

“A seamless triumph of storytelling.” —Gail Godwin, author of Flora

It’s 1969, and sixteen-year-old Lucy is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have frightening repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default caretaker for most of their lives, Charlotte has always been burdened by having to be the responsible one, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare.

With precise, haunting prose and indelible characters, Cruel Beautiful World examines the infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, and most of all, tells a universal story of sisterhood and the complicated legacy of family.

“Absorbing.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Captivating.”—Los Angeles Times

“Engrossing.” —People

“Page-turning suspense.” —New York Journal of Books

“Riveting.” —Marie Claire

“Marvelous.”—The National Book Review

“Hauntingly brilliant.” —Coastal Living

“Gripping and suspenseful.” —BookPage

“Moving.” —The Washington Post


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616207373
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 08/08/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 319,082
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Caroline Leavitt is the award-winning author of eleven novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow. Her essays and stories have been included in New York magazine, Psychology Today, More, Parenting, Redbook, and Salon. She’s a book critic for People, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and she teaches writing online at Stanford and UCLA.

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Cruel Beautiful World 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terribly written, terribly edited terrible story. It was slow, predictable and unsophisticated. If this can get published, we all have hope.
Gail-Cooke More than 1 year ago
Love and loss, actions and choices combine in this beautiful mesmerizing novel by Caroline Leavitt. It is the story of a family rent asunder set in the late 1960s, the years of the Vietnam War, the Manson murders, a time of hope and disillusionment. The family at the heart of the story consists of three - Lucy, a pretty rambunctious teenager, Charlotte, her older, more settled sister who has looked out for Lucy since their parents died in a car accident, and there is Iris, a childless widow who took the girls in. Iris has had no experience in mothering but as the years passed the three have become a family. Lucy is not an exceptional student while Charlotte is a standout. But Lucy has her dreams and thinks they may have come true when her English teacher, William Lallo, takes an interest in her. He praises her works, tells her she has talent as a writer. Lallo is the kind of teacher most girls would fancy in 1969 with his jeans and long hair. He seems to have an understanding of the kids and the world at large. It doesn’t take long before Lucy is meeting him at his apartment. From there it goes to running away together, after all they only need each other and they will make a home. This all sounds so romantic to Lucy. Lucy leaves a note for Charlotte and Iris telling them not to worry (as if that were possible). Lallo find another job in Pennsylvanis and finds a place for them to live in a desolate area where Lucy’s only company are chickens. He tells her they must hide until she is 18 and of legal age. Months pass and Charlotte and Iris hear nothing from Lucy. There is no help from the authorities as “kids run away all the time.” Charlotte is desolate. Blaming herself for not being closer to Lucy and understanding her. She leaves Lucy’s bedroom window open each night in the hope that Lucy will return. As time passes Charlotte goes off to college yet her younger sister is never far from her mind. Now Iris is alone and it is at this point that we learn her story. Lallo becomes more controlling, insisting that Lucy never leave the house. Her isolation is almost more than she can bear and she manages to briefly forge a friend with Patrick who runs a nearby vegetable stand. At one point she even manages to send a postcard to Iris and Charlotte. Throughout this pulse pounding novel Leavitt has been building suspense that culminates in a tragic turn in Lucy’s life. Iris and Charlotte are desperate for answers and Charlotte takes it upon herself to look into the matter full time. Leavitt has crafted a stellar story - compelling, gorgeous and haunting which may leave readers pondering as to the real meaning of family and what family members owe one another. Enjoy!.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
What a great story. It begins with an older woman taking care of two teenagers that were related to her that she started taking care of when they were very young. They were very young when she took over their care, but the reason why comes later in the book. The background of this woman, Iris, is really heartbreaking, but she takes it all in stride. She ends up being an incredible woman, strong and just an unbelievable woman. Then there are the girls that she takes on to raise. One is 6 1/2 years old and the other is 5 year old. For Iris, they come out of nowhere. She takes them in and considers them her own children, not an easy job. Especially when the two girls have just lost both their parents. It's a rough ride for a while, but they begin to accept and love her. As teenagers, they come into their own and that's when the trouble begin. I won't go any further, because I don't want to spoil anything. However, I will tell you that one of the girls believe their teacher who is in his 30's believes he's in love with him and leave with him and go to Pennsylvania to start a new life. I totally expected him to tie her up in the basement and feed her once a week and abuse her. However, he uses a psychological way to keep her from leaving. I really, really loved this book. Although I had some projects going on, I seriously did not want to put this book down. There were so many things going on and I just had to know the answers. The author did a great job in writing this book and I commend her on a great job. I would recommend this book to everyone. There were a lot of emotional moments and I really felt for the characters. I did not like Lucy's ending and I wanted more hurt and pain for William. I could name the punishments, but I will refrain from them. I will just say, they would not be comfortable or fun, Huge thanks for Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.