In an ideal world, we would each have the freedom to explore our passions, to figure out the kind of person we really are, and then strive to become that person. This basic principle, containing hints of the American ideal of the pursuit of happiness, might have been the foundation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, a play written more than 100 years ago, but its continuing relevance to contemporary society remains stronger than ever.
The titular "woman" in Claire Messud's new novel, The Woman Upstairs, is even named after the play's iconic heroine, Nora. Our contemporary Nora (Eldridge) is not married however and, at forty-one, is an angry, bitter woman reflecting on her years as an elementary teacher at Appleton Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
As a child, Nora dreamed of becoming an artist, not a teacher. Nora's mother, who chose to be a stay-at-home mom, thereby...
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