Cover image for The worst kind of want
Title:
The worst kind of want
ISBN:
9780374272661
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
204 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that's starting to feel like one long decline. Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece, Hannah. But after years of caregiving, babysitting is the last thing Cilla wants to do. Instead she throws herself into Hannah's youthful, heedless world--drinking, dancing, smoking--relishing the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. After years of feeling used up and overlooked, Cilla feels like she's coming back to life. But being so close to Hannah brings up complicated memories, making Cilla restless and increasingly reckless, and a dangerous flirtation with a teenage boy soon threatens to send her into a tailspin.
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Summary

Summary

A trip to Italy reignites a woman's desires to disastrous effect in this dark ode to womanhood, death, and sex

To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that's starting to feel like one long decline.

Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece, Hannah. But after years of caregiving, babysitting is the last thing Cilla wants to do. Instead she throws herself into Hannah's youthful, heedless world--drinking, dancing, smoking--relishing the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. After years of feeling used up and overlooked, Cilla feels like she's coming back to life. But being so close to Hannah brings up complicated memories, making Cilla restless and increasingly reckless, and a dangerous flirtation with a teenage boy soon threatens to send her into a tailspin.

With the sharp-edged insight of Ottessa Moshfegh and the taut seduction of Patricia Highsmith, The Worst Kind of Want is a dark exploration of the inherent dangers of being a woman. In her unsettling follow-up to Catalina , Liska Jacobs again delivers hypnotic literary noir about a woman whose unruly desires and troubled past push her to the brink of disaster.


Author Notes

Liska Jacobs is the author of Catalina , and her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books , Literary Hub , The Millions , and The Hairpin , among other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jacobs's intoxicating second novel (after 2017's Catalina) is a love letter to Italy and an evocative study of grief and desire. Forty-three-year-old Priscilla "Cilla" Messing jumps at the chance to trade Los Angeles for Rome, leaving the bedside of her demanding mother, who is rehabilitating after a fall. Cilla's 15-year-old niece, Hannah, who lives in Rome, is still reeling after the death of her mother, Emily, Cilla's sister, a year earlier, and is exhibiting concerning behavior. Hannah's father, Paul, hopes that Cilla will have a calming effect. In Rome, Cilla soon falls into a routine of after-school walking tours with Hannah and 17-year-old Donato, the son of Paul's writing partner and the object of Hannah's affection. Donato is an eager tour guide and his innocent flirtation awakens something dangerous in Cilla. Eventually, Cilla and Donato are stealing moments alone, and their liaisons begin to consume Cilla, leading to devastating consequences. Jacobs threads a vein of low menace throughout the dreamlike beauty of Rome, signaling the inevitable result of Cilla and Donato's doomed affair. As their dalliance intensifies, Cilla reflects on her aging body, her complex relationship with Emily, her death, and a life lived at the expense of her own needs. Jacobs's haunting portrait of one woman's transformative and, ultimately, tragic summer will linger with readers. (Nov.)


Kirkus Review

A Californian flies to Rome to help her widowed brother-in-law care for her troubled teenage niece; instead, she wreaks havoc.Self-pity, self-indulgence, self-rationalization, and general resentment are narrator Cilla's principal charms in Jacobs' (Catalina, 2017) second novel. Not that some of Cilla's general resentment is not justified. She is stuck caring for her aging mother, a former actress who frequently compares Cilla to her younger, prettier sister, Emily. Now 43, Cilla was seduced when barely 15 by her screenwriter father's 33-year-old protg, Guy, with whom Cilla remains entwined personally and professionally despite his new, very young girlfriend. While she blames the predatory creep for damaging her life, it irks Cilla that Emily always distrusted him, first as a young girl and more recently as a mother. It also irks Cilla that Emily rose from a "failed" modeling career and drug issues to become college professor Paul's wife, a celebrated belle in his academic circle. But Emily has recently died of cancer, and Paul has moved to Rome with their 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has begun "acting out" in small delinquencies and running with a group of older teens. When he asks Cilla to visit, she jumps at the chance to escape her hospitalized mother. But instead of offering Hannah nurturing support, Cilla joins in partying with the teens and quickly begins an ever escalating flirtation with 17-year-old Donato, who happens to be the son of Paul's close friends. Thoughtless lust combines with ambivalent jealousy/grief regarding Emily, whom Hannah and Paul remember as more loving and thoughtful than Cilla has described, and ambivalent protectiveness/competitiveness regarding Hannah, who has a serious crush on Donato and is the same age Cilla was when Guy seduced her. As Cilla rationalizes her selfish behavior with Donato, the novel moves slowly but inexorably toward disaster. Only the extent of the mess selfish, narcissistic Cilla leaves in her wake will be a surprise.An unlikable protagonist can be an invigorating challenge, but in this case a better title might have been The Worst Kind of Woman. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

As in her stylish debut, Catalina (2017), Jacobs sets her narrator on a dark psychological journey in sweltering, sun-bleached locales. Cilla, a fortysomething, sometime Hollywood producer, flees her ailing mother's bedside at her brother-in-law's suggestion. Living in Rome since his wife's (Cilla's sister's) death, Paul thinks his daughter, 15-year-old Hannah, could use some guidance. Once in Italy, though, Cilla slips not so much into an authority role as she does into her niece's social circle, which delights Hannah at first. The real pull for Cilla is handsome Donato, son of Paul's research partner and Hannah's slightly older crush. As her flirting friendship with Donato turns sexual on a family trip, Cilla behaves in the reckless way of the truly addicted. The below-the-surface story here is of Cilla's losses: her father, her sister, and a never-realized marriage to her much-older longtime lover, Guy. Feeling perched over the abyss of her own invisibility, she longs for Donato even as she looks back with fresh anger on her youthful relationship with Guy. Darkly compelling and even better than Catalina.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2019 Booklist