Excerpt from Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Rat

A Novel

by Fernanda Eberstadt

Rat
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2010, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Rat sits down beside her, chastened. “You’re going to get burnt on your shoulders.”

She rubs the suntan lotion across her mother’s back, all the way down to the butterfly tattoo nestled at the base of her spine, just above the two dimples on her buttocks.

She braids her mother’s hair, which is henna-red, but she has nothing to tie it with, and little coils and tendrils keep escaping. She tries to fasten it with a strand of seaweed, but the seaweed breaks.

“Yuck,” says Vanessa. “Horrible kid. Vile brat,” but her tone is affectionate now, and she rolls over and rubs her nose against Rat’s in an Eskimo kiss.

“Do you love your little Vanilla-do? Tell me you love me.”

“Yes, I love you, Mama.”

“I love you too, my little Ratkin. Don’t you forget that, I love you, love you, love you.”

Rat’s mother is exquisite. She has a tiny heart-shaped freckled face with a pointed chin, and huge eyes like a cat’s. Beside her, Rat feels raw-boned, gawky. She lies down beside her mother, so that she can peek into Vanessa’s eyes which are deep-river dappled. Her cat’s eyes change color, from green-brown-gray to brown to green again, depending on her mood.

Rat knows the language of those eyes. Brown when Vanessa’s sad (worried about a friend who’s sick, or a boyfriend she ’s broken up with). Gray when she ’s angry (a fight with Mémé Catherine, Rat’s French granny, or with the landlord who won’t fix the drain). Green when her favorite song comes on the radio, or when she’s dancing around the house, parading some crushed-velvet scarf or feather boa she ’s found for nothing in the market.

“You’re so beautiful; you should have been an actress,” Rat says. “You’d have been a superstar.”

“Yeah,” says her mother drily. “Story of my life, one long string of should-have-beens.”

And Rat feels doubly bad, because she knows if it weren’t for her, Vanessa could have been any one of those things she dreamed of—artist, actress, singer, fashion designer.

Because Vanessa’s missed so many chances on Rat’s account, she feels extra guilty for giving her mother a hard time. When Rat grows up, she ’s going to buy the two of them a big house with a walk-in closet, and a bathroom with a full-size bathtub and mirror walls and vanity lights with a dimmer. She ’s going to take Vanessa to Venice and Africa and the Greek Islands, all the places she loves to read about, and she ’s going to bring her breakfast in bed every morning.

Rat isn’t easy. That’s what Vanessa tells her friends, she isn’t easy. Other times, she says, “You’re the love of my life.”

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt, pages 10-13 from the hardcover edition.
Copyright © 2010 by Fernanda Eberstadt. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Spinster
by Kate Bolick

A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!