top of page
Top of Blog
wine patio book .jpg
  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins


Narrator: Karissa Vacker

ISBN: 9798765078204

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Publication Date: 01/03/2023

Format: Audiobook 🔉

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

A moving portrait of a young woman's struggle to break free of her upper-class upbringing amid the whirlwind years of the sexual revolution.

It's the mid-1950s and Margot Thornsen is growing up between a Park Avenue apartment in New York and her family's sumptuous Oyster Bay estate as the presumed heir to her late grandfather's steel fortune. Her domineering mother has charted a course for her—to forego education and marry well—but Margot is more interested in microscopes and beetles and books. When a devastating fire brings the family legacy crashing down and the sexual revolution dawns, a new path opens up—the expansive world of late-1960s Radcliffe College and the intellectual, cultural, and sexual freedom Margot has been reaching for.

Hailed for her "intelligent and heartfelt fiction" (Kirkus Reviews), Wendell Steavenson writes with grace, precision, and great psychological perception. With Margot, she has crafted a vivid portrayal of the quiet torment of young women of its era, a comically caustic mother-daughter story, and a memorable evocation of one woman's passion for the wonder of science.

With Margot, Wendell Steavenson has written an exceptionally graceful, heartfelt, and beautiful novel about the way we become ourselves―the roads we take, and the ones we leave behind.

My Review

Acclaimed journalist turned novelist Wendell Steavenson delivers a humorous, razor-sharp, moving and insightful coming-of-age tale following the journey of Margot Thornsen—titled MARGOT, set in New York during the exciting political and sexual revolutions of the 50s and 60s.

At age eight, we meet Margot and her self-absorbed and verbally abusive mom, Peggy Vanderloep Thornsen—her overbearing mother, has charted a course for her—to forego education and marry well, following society's expectations.

Do we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves? A novel about how we come into our own―the roads we take, and the ones we leave behind.

She wants something different than the privileged family's Park Avenue apartment and their Oyster Bay, Long Island, estate. Not a husband and a life her mother thinks she should have.

Going against the grain, Margot is fascinated with biochemistry, which blossoms at Radcliffe on her journey to pursue a career as a scientist.

The sexual revolution dawns and a new path opens up—the expansive world of late-1960s Radcliffe College and the intellectual, cultural, and sexual freedom she desires.

She gets quite the worldly education from a cast of colorful characters from childhood into college: Trip Merryweather, the boy from the mansion next door—keeping Margot on a string. His older brother, Richie, a medical student, and Margot's free-spirited friend, Maddy, and GI, Sandy Full, among others. Some scenes will make you laugh out loud!

From the social movement that resulted in liberalized attitudes toward sex and morality, the social norms were changing as sex became more widely discussed. The women's liberation movements sought to free women from social and moral confines—War, laws and feeling helpless at times.

With the introduction of the pill and second-wave feminism, women gained more control over their bodies and sexuality during the 1960s. Women had more power over their bodies (more than we do today) and were involved in the feminist movement. Also, abortion, Vietnam War, political unrest, and other topics are some of the many discussions in the book and worldly events during this era.

Intriguing, Margot dives into the new findings of the field of genetics. There are personal discoveries and scientific discoveries.

"The Haves and Have Nots."

Beautifully rendered, a compelling, moving portrait of a young woman’s struggle to break free from her upper-class upbringing amid the whirlwind years of the sexual revolution.

MARGOT is a well-written, thought-provoking novel crossing contemporary, political, historical, scientific, humor, and coming-of-age genres.

We also experience life from a young woman's viewpoint from life during this period as she finds her place in the ever-changing world. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and I appreciated this trip down memory lane, the nostalgia, and it reminded me of Judy Blume's books.

With the cliff hanger ending—Margot's departure to London, wondering if there will be a sequel. I am definitely in for a continuation of the life of Margo.

Readers who enjoyed Jessica George's Maame debut coming-of-age will enjoy MARGOT; from a different background of one woman's journey into life.

🔉 AUDIOBOOK: I listened to the audiobook narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Karissa Vacker! Her performance was superb for a wide range of voices, which took the rating from 4 to 5 stars. Highly recommend the audiobook!

Looking forward to more from this talented author.

Many thanks to #TantorAudio and #NetGalley for a gifted ALC.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: Jan 3, 2023


"Unquestionably compelling...[and] extremely readable." ―Kirkus Reviews

  • The reporter JANINE DI GIOVANNI has called Wendell Steavenson “one of the most gifted and perceptive writers of her generation. She writes with elegance, grace, and authority.”

  • The writer SIMON SEBAG-MONTEFIORE has lauded Steavenson for having the “novelist’s eye for character.”

  • KIRKUS REVIEWS has said that Steavenson writes “intelligent and heartfelt fiction.”

  • PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has praised the way Steavenson “powerfully merges the personal and the political.”

  • BOOKLIST has raved about Steavenson’s combination of “unflinching realism and complicated, captivating characters.”

  • And the FINANCIAL TIMES has declared that “Steavenson writes beautifully.”

About the Author

Wendell Steavenson is a writer and journalist. She spent much of her professional life in the Caucasus and the Middle East, living at various times in Moscow, Tbilisi, Nagorno Karabakh, Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem, reporting for, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Granta and The New Yorker among other publications. She has published four books; three non-fiction, Stories I Stole about Georgia, The Weight of a Mustard Seed about Iraq, and Circling the Square about the Egyptian Revolution as well as one novel, Paris Metro.

For the past several years she has been based in France, writing fiction and about food and how it reflects and illustrates the larger issues of the day, from climate change and the environment to migration, culture and identity. She spends quite a lot of time thinking about what’s for dinner.







bottom of page