An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster from the author of Trust Exercise and A Person of Interest
Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.
My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.
The throes of an obsessive relationship allow a young graduate student to avoid growing up for a little while in Choi s dark and stormy fourth novel (following A Person of Interest). Regina Gottlieb, anxious about being a new student in a prestigious graduate English program, finds a welcome distraction in Nicholas Brodeur, her seminar professor. His offer of a TA position calms her fears of inadequacy, and even Regina s roommate, Daniel Dutra, a med student and born eccentric, approve of the connection. Despite Nicholas s good looks and the rumors about his raffish ways on campus, Regina is able to keep a personal distance from him. It s different, however, when she meets his wife, Martha, during a party at the Brodeurs house. The two women soon embark on a torrid, all-consuming affair, with Regina measuring her days in a toxic swirl of hours in Martha s bed and at a local bar. Even as Regina loses her way, though, the narrative never lacks direction. Choi keeps the moments between her characters believable while building momentum toward the illicit lovers inevitable falling-out.
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After two very good novels, this novel is a disappointment. The structure is sound, but the novel is filled with so many ridiculous episodes (Dutra's interest in Eastern medicine?) and unbelievable details (a 20-something woman who doesn't know what stretch marks are?) that it makes for painful reading.