Virtual Event: Francine Prose


The Vixen:
A Novel

in conversation with IVY MEEROPOL


July 7, 2021
7:00 PM ET


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$31.00 (book and signed bookplate included)

Harvard Book Store, Politics and Prose, and Books & Books welcome acclaimed writer FRANCINE PROSE—author of Mister Monkey, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, and Reading Like a Writer—for a discussion of her latest novel, The Vixen. She will be joined in conversation by documentarian IVY MEEROPOL, director of Heir to an Execution, The Hill, and Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn.


All tickets include a hardcover copy of The Vixen and a bookplate signed by the author.

Books bundled with tickets will be shipped out after the event. Please note: we are unable to ship internationally.


About The Vixen

It’s 1953, and Simon Putnam, a recent Harvard graduate newly hired by a distinguished New York publishing firm, has entered a glittering world of three-martini lunches, exclusive literary parties, and old-money aristocrats in exquisitely tailored suits, a far cry from his loving, middle-class Jewish family in Coney Island.

But Simon’s first assignment—editing The Vixen, the Patriot and the Fanatic, a lurid bodice-ripper improbably based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a potboiler intended to shore up the firm’s failing finances—makes him question the cost of admission. Because Simon has a secret that, at the height of the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings, he cannot reveal: his beloved mother was a childhood friend of Ethel Rosenberg’s. His parents mourn Ethel’s death.

Simon’s dilemma grows thornier when he meets The Vixen’s author, the startlingly beautiful, reckless, seductive Anya Partridge, ensconced in her opium-scented boudoir in a luxury Hudson River mental asylum. As mysteries deepen, as the confluence of sex, money, politics and power spirals out of Simon’s control, he must face what he’s lost by exchanging the loving safety of his middle-class Jewish parents’ Coney Island apartment for the witty, whiskey-soaked orbit of his charismatic boss, the legendary Warren Landry. Gradually Simon realizes that the people around him are not what they seem, that everyone is keeping secrets, that ordinary events may conceal a diabolical plot—and that these crises may steer him toward a brighter future.

At once domestic and political, contemporary and historic, funny and heartbreaking, enlivened by surprising plot turns and passages from Anya’s hilariously bad novel, The Vixen illuminates a period of history with eerily striking similarities to the current moment. Meanwhile it asks timeless questions: How do we balance ambition and conscience? What do social mobility and cultural assimilation require us to sacrifice? How do we develop an authentic self, discover a vocation, and learn to live with the mysteries of love, family, art, life and loss?

Praise for The Vixen

“Prose is a powerhouse. The Vixen will fascinate and complicate the histories that haunt our present moments. Like Coney Island’s Cyclone, this story tumbles and tangles a reader’s grip of reality. It’s told with the heart, humor and daring of a true artist. Prose’s Vixen is a triumph and a trip though the solid magic that books make real.” —Samantha Hunt, author of Mr. Splitfoot

“Can a novel be wildly intelligent, deeply compassionate, politically astute and utterly absorbing? In her dazzling new novel Francine Prose accomplishes all of this, and more, as she explores the fate of the Rosenbergs and the travails of an editorial assistant new to both publishing and love. The Vixen is irresistible.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field

“In an enthralling new novel, Francine Prose, a maestro storyteller, interrogates the murky symbiotic relationship between history and individuals: Is it the senselessness of history that undermines and rewrites each person's life story, or, is it a collection of cruelties from individuals that change the course of history? Equally suspenseful and philosophical, The Vixen is both a page tuner set in an era of espionage, conspiracy and mistrust, and an exploration of one of the sustaining factors of civilization that also has to sustain perennial attack from politics and history: human decency.” —Yiyun Li, author of Must I Go

Francine Prose
Francine Prose

Francine Prose

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-two works of fiction including the highly acclaimed The Vixen; Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include the highly praised Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, which has become a classic. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

Photo Credit: Frances F. Denny

Ivy Meeropol
Ivy Meeropol

Ivy Meeropol

Ivy Meeropol debut film, Heir to an Execution (HBO), explored the legacy of her grandparents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Her other films include Bully, Coward, Victim: The Story of Roy Cohn, currently streaming on HBO; Indian Point, about an aging nuclear power plant close to New York City; and The Hill (Sundance Channel), about Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) and his feisty, young staff. Ivy was a Sundance Institute Fellow and has been awarded grants from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the NY State Council for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. Ivy is currently in production on a new documentary film for HBO, airing Summer 2022.

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