You’ve probably heard of Karen Joy Fowler. The Jane Austen Book Club made quite a stir when it came out, and it’s been going strong since. This particular story is nominated for a World Fantasy Award, the winners of which will be announced next weekend.
Jude gives Eli fifteen minutes in which to go calm Chloe down. God knows, nothing Jude could say would accomplish that. She waits until he’s up the stairs, then follows him, but only as high as the first creaking step, so that she can almost, but not quite hear what they’re saying. Chloe’s voice is high and impassioned, Eli’s apologetic. Then everything is silent, suspiciously so, and she’s just about to go up the rest of the way even though the fifteen minutes isn’t over when she hears Eli again and realizes he’s in the hall. “Let me talk to your mom,” Eli is saying and Jude hurries back to the table before he catches her listening.
She notices that he manages the stairs without a sound. “She’s fine,” Eli tells her. “She’s on the computer.”
Jude decides not to finish her drink. It wouldn’t be wise or responsible. It wouldn’t be motherly. She’s already blurred a bit at the edges though she thinks that’s fatigue more than liquor. She’s been having so much trouble sleeping.
She eases her feet out of her shoes, leans down to rub her toes. “Doesn’t it feel like we’ve just put the children to bed?” she asks.
Eli’s back in his seat across the table, straight-backed in the chair, looking soberly sexy. “Forgive me for this,” he says. He leans forward slightly. “But are you trying to seduce me? Mrs. Robinson?”
Jude absolutely wasn’t, so it’s easy to deny. “I wouldn’t date you even without Chloe,” she says. Eli’s been polite, so she tries to be polite back. Leave it at that.
But he insists on asking.
“It’s just such a waste,” she says. “I mean, really. High school and high school girls? That’s the best you can do with immortality? It doesn’t impress me.”