Book review: A Gate At The Stairs

A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore is published in hardback by Faber, priced £16.99. Available now.

Critically-acclaimed US writer Lorrie Moore is back with her third novel, 11 years after her previous release, the short-story collection Birds Of America.

A Gate At The Stairs is a coming-of-age tale that interleaves loss of innocence with the complexities of family life post-9/11.

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Raised in a provincial US town, fresh-faced and perceptive Tassie Keltjin gravitates towards the perceived sophistication of the university town of Troy, "the Athens of the Midwest". To help fund her studies, she works as a nanny to a beguiling and dysfunctional couple, attending to their adopted bi-racial daughter Emmie.

While acting as the surrogate mother to the beautiful mixed-race toddler, Tassie discovers love and heartbreak, liberal ideals and racial discrimination. The intricacies of family life help her realise that the personal is inextricably linked to the political.

Moore's prose is hilarious and graceful at the same time – a beautiful blend of stylistic puns and deeply-felt poetry.

10/10 Review by Trisha Andres