Listen to Claire Messud here.
Claire Messud and I talk about her new novel The Burning Girl, as well as Claire’s childhood years in Australia, and how childhood friendships can haunt and define us. I’ve loved Claire’s work ever since I read The Emperor’s Children when I was living in Sydney. In the opening scene she captured so vividly what a certain set of creative people are like that I knew she must to have spent time in my hometown.
In The Burning Girl, Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality—crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.