TROUBLE

Kate Christensen

 A vibrant story of female friendship and midlife sexual awakening from the acclaimed author of The Great Man

Josie is a Manhattan psychotherapist living a comfortable life with her husband and daughter—until, while suddenly flirting with a man at a party, she is struck with the sudden realization that she must leave her passionless marriage. A thrillingly sordid encounter with a stranger she meets at a bar immediately follows. At the same time, her college friend Raquel, a Los Angeles rock star, is being pilloried in the press for sleeping with a much younger man who happens to have a pregnant girlfriend.

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 A vibrant story of female friendship and midlife sexual awakening from the acclaimed author of The Great Man

Josie is a Manhattan psychotherapist living a comfortable life with her husband and daughter—until, while suddenly flirting with a man at a party, she is struck with the sudden realization that she must leave her passionless marriage. A thrillingly sordid encounter with a stranger she meets at a bar immediately follows. At the same time, her college friend Raquel, a Los Angeles rock star, is being pilloried in the press for sleeping with a much younger man who happens to have a pregnant girlfriend. This proves to be red meat to the gossip hounds of the Internet. The two friends escape to Mexico City for a Christmas holiday of retreat and rediscovery of their essential selves. Sex has gotten these two bright, complicated women into interesting trouble, and the story of their struggles to get out of that trouble is totally gripping at every turn.

A tragicomedy of marriage and friendship, Trouble is a funny, piercing, and moving examination of the battle between the need for connection and the quest for freedom that every modern woman must fight.

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  • Doubleday Books
  • Hardcover
  • June 2009
  • 320 Pages
  • 9780385527309

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$26.00

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About Kate Christensen

 Kate Christensen is also the author of the novels In the Drink, Jeremy Thrane, and The Epicure’s Lament, and The Great Man, winner of the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in various publications, including Salon, Mademoiselle, The Hartford Courant, Elle, and the bestselling anthology The Bitch in the House. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Praise

“At the start, this feels like a stylishly sexy, midlife-upheaval novel featuring upscale New Yorkers––a spa treatment for the mind. Not so fast. This is mordant and sly Christensen, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award–winning The Great Man (2007). And, sure enough, her new novel metamorphoses into a scouring tale of psychological paradox. Josie, a 45-year-old therapist, is struck, as though with a god’s lightning bolt, by the realization that her marriage is over. At the same time, her longtime friend, rock star Raquel, is being shredded for her affair with a much younger actor, and the worst of her tormentors is a famously vicious gossip blogger. As Christensen keenly assesses the particular damage wrought by cyber slander, Raquel flees to Mexico City, and Josie joins her there, thrilled to be piloted through the metropolis’ high life on a river of tequila. As Josie reawakens to life’s pleasures, Raquel shuts down. What sort of shrink is Josie? She seems clueless about people’s feelings. Bewitching readers with a narcotic blend of eroticism and suspense, Christensen raises unsettling questions about our inability to understand ourselves or others and marvels over our consuming fascination with ritualized confrontation, whether it’s the voraciousness of the paparazzi or the ancient drama of the bullfight.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist 

Discussion Questions

Do you empathize or disagree with Josie’s decision to leave Anthony and her reasons for doing so? Did you find Josie to be a sympathetic character at the beginning of the novel? In the end? Why or why not?

In Chapter Two, we see Josie in four psychotherapy sessions with her clients. Why do you think the author included these scenes in the novel? Do Josie’s training and experience as a therapist enable her to have increased insight into the people around her?

Mexico City serves as a needed escape valve for both Josie and Raquel. Why do you think the author chose this city for the setting of converging and diverging paths of these two friends? What role does Mexico itself play in the unfolding story?

There are several instances and places during the novel in which a ritualized encounter takes place, among them the paparazzi descending on Raquel, a bullfight, and references to the human-sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs. Are there other instances of such encounters? What do you think the author is suggesting about the apparent ongoing human need for them?

On page 307, going home from Raquel’s mother’s house in a taxi with Wendy, Josie reflects about the kind of friend she has been to Raquel: “Maybe she and I had failed each other by allowing each other the freedom to be ourselves, and maybe that was the inevitable consequence of true friendship.” What do you think she means by this? Do you agree?