"Blazingly original, wry, and perfectly attuned to the oddness—and the profundity—of life” (Cristina Henríquez), Claire Luchette's debut, Agatha of Little Neon, is a novel about yearning and sisterhood, figuring out how you fit in (or don’t), and the unexpected friends who help you find your truest self
Agatha has lived every day of the last seven years with her sisters: they work together, laugh together, pray together. Their world is contained within the little house they share. The four of them are devoted to Mother Roberta and to their quiet, purposeful life.
But when the parish goes broke, the sisters are forced to move. They land in Woonsocket, a former mill town now dotted with wind turbines. They head up a halfway house, where they live alongside castoffs like the jawless Tim Gary and the headstrong Lawnmower Jill. Agatha is forced to venture out into the world alone, to teach math at a local all-girls high school, where for the first time in years she will have to reckon with what she sees and feels all on her own. Who will she be if she isn't with her sisters? These women, the church, have been her home—or has she just been hiding?
Disarming, delightfully deadpan, and full of searching, Claire Luchette’s Agatha of Little Neon offers a view into the lives of women and the choices they make. It is a novel about female friendship and devotion, the roles made available to us, and how we become ourselves.
About the Author
Claire Luchette's work has appeared in VQR, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Granta. A 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Luchette graduated from the University of Oregon MFA program and has received grants and scholarships from MacDowell, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Millay Colony, Lighthouse Works, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and the James Merrill House. Agatha of Little Neon is Luchette's first novel.
“Agatha of Little Neon is the rare kind of book that reads like a transmission from a person you don’t know, but who is already nestled close to your heart. Full of small devotions, pith and vigor, and a bounty of tender feeling for a world that is not quite as full of grace as it could be, this bold debut shines with a light all its own and announces Claire Luchette as a true original and a voice to follow closely.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“There’s not a false step in this novel of sisterhood, belonging, and what it means to choose a life for yourself. Agatha of Little Neon is a brilliant testament to Claire Luchette’s skill and original voice.”
—Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
“Claire Luchette is so wildly talented that I would follow her anywhere. Here, it’s to Woonsocket along with four women who are searching for meaning and a sense of belonging from each other and the world beyond. The result is a novel that’s blazingly original, wry, and perfectly attuned to the oddness—and the profundity—of life.”
—Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
“Claire Luchette is a dazzlingly gifted new voice, a master at balancing a sneaky deadpan wit with deep and genuine pathos. Agatha of Little Neon brilliantly mixes the sacred and the transgressive, the solemn and the absurd, and the profound, contradictory longings for belonging and independence. This book is a moving meditation on how to be a woman in the world—and how to be a human.”
—Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers