Homework A Novel

Margot Livesey




Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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Celia Gilchrist believes that she has finally found the right man in Stephen, but when she moves in with him and his young daughter, Jenny, things begin to go subtly, menacingly wrong. Money disappears, a sweater is ruined, small, commonplace lies escalate into awkward confrontations. Livesey's debut novel is an affecting portrait of jealousy and fear, devotion and the desire to be loved.


Praise for Homework

"Riveting . . . The dark legacy of unfulfilled longing blighted innocence is illuminated with elegance and insight."—Carol Verderese, The New York Times Book Review

"Arresting . . . Homework skillfully infuses psychological fright into the ordinary routine of living."—The New York Times

"[An] artful narrative . . . rife with Hitchcockian suspense and a vivid re-creation of terror worthy of the master himself."—Los Angeles Times

"The careful symmetry of Livesey's characters and her generous use of symbolism reflect the sensibilities of a short-story writer . . . Livesey's prose is clear and her subject matter compelling."—The Washington Post

"Homework is a deeply haunting report from the unimaginable secret battlefield of the family psyche."—Rosellen Brown

"Immensely compelling and intelligent, profoundly chilling, Homework echoes Henry James's Turn of the Screw—it's that eerie, beautifully crafted, and brave in its willingness to illuminate the dark side of childhood."—Francine Prose

"It has been a long time since I read a book in one sitting . . . but a few pages into Homework I knew I was in for an extended sabbatical on the couch . . . A finely crafted work."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Livesey has written a fine thriller about the dark side of childhood."—The Dallas Morning News

"The taut narrative succeeds by making us question both the child and the adult. Subtle, creepy."—Detroit Free Press

"A sinister . . . well conceived tale, fraught with terror . . . Livesey's spare prose skillfully highlights nuances, augmenting that terror . . . Highly recommended."—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

PART ICHAPTER 1It was the Saturday before Easter and all day the weather had been seesawing between winter and spring. As I approached the zoo the sun came out again. There was no sign of Stephen and Jenny among the queue of people waiting to gain admission, and I sat down on the wooden bench beside the entrance. In the shelter of the high wall, it was warm enough to unbutton my jacket. I closed my eyes and turned my face to the sun, feeling the brightness on my eyelids. I could smell the rising smells of spring--damp earth, growth, decay--as if these odours, kept prisoner all winter
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  • Margot Livesey

  • Margot Livesey is the author of the story collection Learning by Heart and four novels, including Criminals, The Missing World, and Eva Moves the Furniture. Born in Scotland, she lives in the Boston area, where she is writer-in-residence at Emerson College.
  • Margot Livesey