Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction Chosen as a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Kansas City Star, Financial Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Real Simple
Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the daughter of a gentleman farmer, has come to a university town as a student. When she takes a job as a part-time nanny for a mysterious and glamorous family, she finds herself drawn deeper into their world and forever changed. Told through the eyes of this memorable narrator, A Gate at the Stairs is a piercing novel of race, class, love, and war in America.
The fictional town of Troy is (not so) loosely based on Madison, WI--my beloved hometown. I always find reading about a place you know so intimately (and feel so passionately about, as I do about Madison) can be dangerously distracting. But Moore really nailed her descriptions, not just of the physical place but of the people in it.
I had some issues with the plot, which at times felt too broad and not entirely believable. (I won't get into detail to avoid giving away plot points best discovered while reading.) I also couldn't really place where narrator-Tassie was in time--her commentary at times suggested a cynicism at odds with the of-the-action-Tassie. But more than anything, that discrepancy made me curious, not frustrated.
This sums it up:
"Moore cannot write a bad sentence, cannot create poor characters, cannot tell flat, ho-hum stories. When she's good, she's very, very good; when she's bad, she's good."
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel