The Poet's House

Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication Date: July 12, 2022

An unforgettable, lighthearted story about a young woman who discovers the insular world of writers, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Year We Left Home.

Carla is stuck. In her twenties and working for a landscaper, she’s been told by everyone that she’s on the wrong path, from her mom who wants her to work at the hospital to her boyfriend who is dropping not-so-subtle hints that she should be doing something that matters.

Then she is hired for a job at the home of Viridian, a lauded and lovely aging poet who introduces Carla to an eccentric circle of writers. At first, she is perplexed by their predilection for reciting lines in conversation, the stories of their many liaisons, their endless wine-soaked nights. Soon though, she becomes enamored with this entire world: with Viridian, whose reputation has been defined by her infamous affair with a famous male poet, Mathias; and her friends; and especially with the power of words, the “ache and hunger that can both be awakened and soothed by a poem,” a hunger that Carla feels sharply. When a fight emerges over a vital cache of poems that Mathias wrote about Viridian, Carla gets drawn in. But how much will she sacrifice for a group that may or may not see her as one of their own?

A delightfully funny look at the art world—sometimes petty, sometimes transactional, sometimes transformative—The Poet’s House is also a refreshingly candid and delightful story of finding one’s way, with words as our lantern in the dark.

Advance Praise for The Poet's House

"Ever insightful, imaginative, compassionate, and funny, Thompson is a virtuoso of thorny interactions between wholly realized characters rife with contradictions. And she is so in her element, bringing this richly dimensional book-anchored mise-en-scène to life with lacerating wit and rueful tenderness while adeptly interleaving a poet's long, covert battle against sexism and regret with the verdant tale of a young woman taking root in an unexpectedly sustaining realm.
— Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)

"The brilliantly rendered mise-en-scène of quarrelsome, ego-ridden yet touchingly fragile poets and the literary entrepreneurs who circle around them makes a vivid backdrop for this classic coming-of-age tale. More thoughtful, elegantly written fiction in the classic realist tradition by the gifted Thompson."
-- Kirkus Review (Starred)

"Thompson’s talents for immersive storytelling and sharp characters are on brilliant display, particularly in her portrayal of Carla’s longing for something greater, and of Viridian’s conflicted feelings about Mathias’s work. The author’s fans will savor this."
-- Publisher's Weekly

The Poet’s House is terrific company: funny, poignant, and full of realistically quirky and original characters.”

—Julie Schumacher, author of The Shakespeare Requirement

“Jean Thompson is a national treasure. The Poet’s House is yet another indelible masterpiece in her oeuvre.”

—Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk