The Mother of All Things: A Novel (Hardcover)

The Mother of All Things: A Novel By Alexis Landau Cover Image
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A daring novel from the acclaimed author of Those Who Are Saved: female rage, grief, and creativity collide in the present and animate the past, when a woman reconnects with her essential self during a summer journey, and discovers an ancient female world that offers parallels to her own

Kept busy by her obligations as a wife and mother, art history professor Ava Zaretsky has little time to devote to her research and writing. Now tagging along on her film-producer husband’s shoot in Bulgaria for the summer, where she’s mostly solo parenting her sweet son and rebellious budding tween daughter, she has a chance encounter with her fierce feminist mentor from college, which changes everything.

Ava is swept up into a circle of women who reenact ancient Greco-Roman mystery rites of initiation, bringing her research to life and illuminating the story of a 5th-century-BC mother-daughter pair whose sense of female loyalty to each other and connection to the divine feminine guides Ava in her exploration of the eternal stages of womanhood. Reaching across time and deep into the female psyche, The Mother of All Things delivers a revelatory tale of a woman coming to terms with her evolving sense of responsibility to herself and her family, as she achieves a new appreciation of the gifts of female wisdom and self-belief.

About the Author

ALEXIS LANDAU is a graduate of Vassar College and received an MFA from Emerson College and a PhD in English literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Empire of the Senses and Those Who Are Saved. She teaches writing at USC and lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

"Engrossing . . . A sharply observed look at modern motherhood and marriage. Limning such heady subjects as the suppression of the divine feminine, women's rage over being saddled with the majority of domestic labor and childcare no matter how many other responsibilities and passions they have, and the dangers and delights of the various seasons of a woman's life, Landau's latest will resonate powerfully with readers." Booklist

"This one is for all my dark academia girlies. Think The Secret History but more human, and with a healthy dose of female rage.” Woroni

"The Mother of All Things glistens with passion, like wet paint. Alexis Landau has written a revelatory novel about the age-old disparity in power between men and women, focusing in on Ava, a wife and mother and stalled academic who feels a mixture of rage and bewilderment about the path her life has taken. Bursting with fresh insights into the merciless passage of time and the impossibility of protecting one’s children from the world's incursions, this novel is as original as it is accessible, written with a deft touch for the prosaic details of ordinary life as well as the seduction of mythic female narratives." —Daphne Merkin, author of This Close to Happy and Twenty-two Minutes of Unconditional Love

"A delicious fever dream of a novel about female rage and longing, Alexis Landau executes a high-wire act in The Mother of All Things, seamlessly weaving together ancient tragedies and contemporary dramas with dazzling results. Readers of Claire Messud and Rachel Yoder won’t be able to resist Landau’s sophisticated examination of ambition, desire, and anger." —Katy Hays, New York Times bestselling author of The Cloisters

"The book pulses with emotional truth. Landau has created a complex and sympathetic narrator whose story connects a mother's familiar and relatable life to the exotic locales of Eastern Europe and the secret wisdom of the ancients. She skillfully invokes the mystery that undergirds and binds us." —Lisa Marchiano, author of The Vital Spark and host of the podcast “This Jungian Life”

“Ava, a once-promising art historian, navigates the treacherous terrain of motherhood and a husband accustomed to having his career put first, as she struggles to reengage in academic life and finds herself diving headlong into a tantalizing world of ancient female rites. Engrossing and meticulously researched, The Mother of All Things cleverly delves into the woe and splendor of modern-day womanhood while keeping the ancient wisdom of our foremothers close by.”  —Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593700792
ISBN-10: 0593700791
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English