Lois Lonsdale is an enigma to those around her. The British literature professor is a respected academic, but also something of a threat to others in the department. That’s partly due to the former spelling bee champion’s striking looks, but her publishing success and standoffish nature don’t help.
Only her best friend in the department, Brad, knows Lois was kidnapped nearly two decades earlier. The kidnapper held Lois and another captive, Carly May Smith, in a cabin in upstate New York. Although the girls weren’t allowed out in daylight, their captor was otherwise more like a benevolent camp counselor. After two months, they returned, visibly unscathed, to their adolescent lives.
Carly May, who left her Nebraska hometown and pageant titles behind to pursue acting under the name Chloe Savage, is the only one who understands their shared history. And she’s about to play the role of a lifetime—in the movie adaptation of a novel about two girls and the summer they were kidnapped. A novel by Lois Lonsdale.
As they circle back to one another decades after the events that initially bonded them, Lois and Carly May individually contemplate the repercussions of that summer. With their captor’s motives unclear and a lifetime surrounded by people who can’t possibly understand, each woman carries her own baggage and unanswered questions.
In Pretty Is, debut novelist Maggie Mitchell toggles between her main characters’ perspectives and the novel based on their real-life story. As she peels back layers of her protagonists’ lives and memories, Mitchell carries readers through a thrilling, literary psychological adventure that examines how pivotal moments can echo throughout our lives.