Claire Messud to Chat THE BURNING GIRL Novel at Portsmouth's Music Hall

Claire Messud to Chat THE BURNING GIRL Novel at Portsmouth's Music Hall

The Music Hall's Writers in the Loft series welcomes to the stage New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud, on Tuesday, September 12.

She will discuss her latest work, THE BURNING GIRL, most recently heralded in the NY Times magazine (8/13) - a piercing story of adolescence and identity told through a friendship between two girls.

The 7pm event includes an author presentation and moderated Q+A, plus book signing and a meet-and-greet. It will be held at the Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street, in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

"Claire Messud's remarkable work The Emperor's Children launched her to literary success, and she just keeps going. The Woman Upstairs, a haunting look at one seemingly successful life, is an all-time favorite among my friends. I can't wait to read THE BURNING GIRL, a coming-of-age novel about childhood friendships and what it means to really know someone," said Margaret Talcott, Producer of Writers in the Loft and the evening's moderator.

"I think all of us can relate to Claire's message about the complications of friendship and of being a woman today. As do others, I compare her to Elena Ferrante, yet with her own unique voice I am so excited that she will be joining us in the Loft," added Talcott.


Julia and Cassie have very different family lives: Julia's parents are married, calm, and stable, whereas Cassie is raised by a single mother. Even so, they've been friends since nursery school, sharing everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts.

But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge. Julia, supported by her parents, aspires to become an actress and embraces opportunities at their school, while Cassie focuses her energy on clothes and parties, even dating Julia's longtime crush. Rumors of Cassie's sexual escapades reach Julia, who cannot parse which stories are true, though she chooses to believe Cassie's denials even when no one else does. When Cassie takes off in search of her real father, Julia realizes that she is the only person who can rescue her friend. But Julia's great act of devotion is, to Cassie, the deepest treachery.

In THE BURNING GIRL, Claire Messud skillfully and masterfully mixes fable and coming-of-age tale to create a novel that resonates with universal truth; a story about how we are forged by the magic of our earliest relationships, and how we are honed by their unfathomable loss. This hypnotic coming-of-age story raises the big question: To what extent can we know ourselves and others?

Claire Messud to Chat THE BURNING GIRL Novel at Portsmouth's Music HallABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of five previous works of fiction including her most recent novel, The Woman Upstairs. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.

The ticket package for Writers in the Loft: Claire Messud on Tuesday, September 12, at 7 pm, is $40 ($38 members). In addition to a reserved seat, the package includes a copy of THE BURNING GIRL ($25.95 hardcover), a bar beverage, author presentation, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet. Packages can be purchased online at, over the phone at 603.436.2400 or in person at the B2W Box Office at the Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut Street.

Akin to The Music Hall's anchor literary series, Writers on a New England Stage, Writers in the Loft features bestselling authors in a smaller, more intimate space. The series brings audiences today's top authors, the best of fiction and nonfiction, and award-winners across categories. The evening package includes a reserved seat and bar beverage, author presentation and Q+A, a copy of the book, and a meet-and-greet book signing with the featured writer.

The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus - one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, designated an American Treasure for the Arts by the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures Program, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, recently named "best performing arts venue" by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence.

For more, visit, or follow on Twitter: @MusicHall, Facebook: /musichall and YouTube: /musichallnh.

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