Ellah Allfrey

The imagined near future of Chang-Rae Lee's new novel is entirely credible. So much so that one is, for much of the book, lulled into reading the story as merely a warning of the perils of unbridled consumerism and neglect of our environment. And indeed, yes, there is that, but there is so much more besides.

For readers new to Daniel Woodrell's work, The Maid's Version is a perfect introduction and an invitation to read more. It's a short book — almost a novella at a mere 164 pages — but there are lifetimes captured here. Woodrell sets the story in his beloved Missouri Ozarks, and he writes with clear-eyed observation, introducing the reader to characters whose lives are shaped as much by their rural landscape as by the moral ambiguities — the collective lies, constraints and collusions — that form the necessary glue holding their community together.