Raised to be obedient by a stern grandmother in a blue-collar town in Massachusetts, Rosie accepts a scholarship to art school in New York City in the 1980s. One morning at a museum, she meets a worldly man twenty years her senior, with access to the upper crust of New England society. Bennett is dashing, knows that “polo” refers only to ponies, teaches her which direction to spoon soup, and tells of exotic escapades with Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson. Soon, Rosie is living with him on a swanky estate on Connecticut’s Gold Coast, naively in sway to his moral ambivalence. A daughter — Miranda — is born, just as his current con goes awry forcing them to abscond in the middle of the night to the untamed wilderness of northern Vermont.
Almost immediately, Bennett abandons them in an uninsulated cabin without a car or cash for weeks at a time, so he can tend a teaching job that may or may not exist at an elite college. Rosie is forced to care for her young daughter alone, and to tackle the stubborn intricacies of the wood stove, snowshoe into town, hunt for wild game, and forage in the forest. As Rosie and Miranda’s life gradually begins to normalize, Bennett’s schemes turn malevolent, and Rosie must at last confront his twisted deceptions. Her actions have far-reaching and perilous consequences.
An astounding new literary thriller from a celebrated author at the height of her storytelling prowess, The Hare bravely considers a woman’s inherent sense of obligation – sexual and emotional – to the male hierarchy, and deserves to be part of our conversation as we reckon with #MeToo and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Rosie Monroe emerges as an authentic, tarnished feminist heroine.
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.
"The twists and turns of the novel keep you on the roller coaster of a thriller, but ultimately this is a character study of a deeply complicated woman who inches her way toward setting herself free... I was moved and changed by Rose’s journey to self acceptance and empowerment. I found myself reconsidering some of the unconscious biases that get baked into all of us about femaleness and standards of living. But mostly, I fell in love with Rosie and I rooted for her, believed in her, and hoped desperately that she would find her way to a peaceful and fulfilling life."
—Jennifer Morrison, A3C Reads
"The Hare is the March 2023 Book of the Month for A3C Reads"
The Hare by Melanie Finn wins the 2021 Vermont Book Award for Fiction
"VCFA president Leslie Ward gave the fiction award to Finn for her feminist literary thriller about a naive young woman who follows a charismatic man to a harrowing life in the Vermont countryside."
—Margot Harrison, Seven Days announcement of the winners of the 2021 Vermont Book Awards
2021 New England Book Awards, Finalist
View the announcement from The New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA)
"[An] involving, morally complex novel... Rosie is a difficult character, full of anger, generosity and self-doubt, and her muddle is the stuff of true tragedy."
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"[The Hare] shimmers with a stark loveliness... Finn is unafraid to address big moral questions—what D. H. Lawrence might write, if he lived in a world of Brett Kavanaugh hearings, cars with crushing repair bills and secret child pornography websites."
—Lisa Zeidner, The Washington Post
"In this brooding feminist thriller, a former art student and her daughter are isolated in a rural Vermont cabin and have to contend with the toxic presence of an unbalanced con man in their lives."
—New York Times
"This is a page-turner about a tough woman and her con-artist lout of a partner, and I will eat my laptop if it doesn’t get optioned for TV or film the minute it hits bookshelves. It is also woven through with ideas about feminism, parenting, narcissism, and self-sufficiency—a book that is easy to read without being remotely lightweight."
—Molly Young, Vulture
"A sharp portrait of a woman doing what she needs to do... Finn deftly shows how abuse echoes on in a person's life, changing tone, growing louder and softer, and reverberating into the future. The book knives into questions of power, of resolve, of seduction, of survival."
—Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe
"Art student Rosie is so dazzled by Bennett that she doesn't realize the extent of his cons—until he leaves her destitute in the wilderness of Vermont. There she survives with the help of a neighbor who sticks by her, even when the worst comes. A slow-boil thriller about perseverance and the power of friendship."
—Wendy Naugle, People Magazine
"Masculinity is toxic, decisions are poor and the class divide is deep in Melanie Finn's provocative fourth novel, The Hare, a harrowing thriller about survival and self-discovery... Finn addresses a panoply of social concerns while presenting questions of fate and fortune."
—Marci Schmitt, Star Tribune
"I have read the book to beat this year... I do not want to misconstrue The Hare as a political book or imply that the book’s merits lie in its many congruencies with the political and social climate of our times. It can be political, and it does reflect repugnant political and social times much too well—but The Hare should be read because it is a damn good book. The plot is riveting, with unexpected twists and a climax that is not to be missed, and the characters are so skillfully drawn: relatable, loveable, hateable and totally unforgettable. Finn has created a perfect and original novel—however you want to characterize it—that belongs on any serious reader’s shelf."
—Lisa Grgas, The Literary Review
"Finn’s writing—with vivid descriptions of Vermont mud and menopausal hot flashes—is nothing short of stellar. The Hare contemplates a woman’s inherent sense of obligation and is especially relevant amid the #MeToo movement. The story, meanwhile, is unpredictable and unputdownable, culminating in an unforgettable final image that I’m not going to spoil here."
—Suzanne Perez, KMUW / NPR Wichita
"Between Bennett’s faux-WASP history and Rosie’s determination to survive, The Hare has a lot, and maybe even enough, going on. But Finn chooses to place the second half of the book in Rosie’s future, a 2019 where she is a 54-year-old bookkeeper, still living in the Vermont cabin—and trying to answer Miranda’s questions about why their lives have taken this shape."
—Bethanne Patrick, Lit Hub
"5 Books You May Have Missed in January"
"This is a gripping literary thriller with writing so good you'll want to bookmark multiple passages."
—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed
"8 Books Out This Week That We Can't Stop Talking About"
"As angry and unflinching as it is tender, Melanie Finn's The Hare is the tale of trapped womanhood—and all the violence and desperation that goes into escaping it. Protagonist Rosie trails her lover, the wealthy con man Bennett, to Vermont, only for his betrayal to leave her vulnerable and alone. Hardened by poverty and freezing winters, she grows into a wise but bitter woman slowly inching toward something like freedom."
—Lauren Puckett, Elle
"Most Anticipated Books of 2021"
"Finn offers a chilling account of the ways women can be abused, with sexual assault, psychological trauma, objectification, and murder crossing class boundaries. Yet as she also shows, women often cannot escape the cages they have helped to build around their lives. A #MeToo tale that will also appeal to general readers."
—Joanna Burkhardt, Library Journal, highly recommended
"[Finn]’s stories are beautiful and have a dark, suspenseful feel that will appeal to fans of literary mysteries... Finn also moves between cosmopolitan and rural settings in an interesting way as she shares the story of a young woman who becomes involved with and is later abandoned by a wealthy older man.”
—Sarah Brown (Subterranean Books), St. Louis Magazine
"10 Must-reads for 2021" by Jen Roberts
"After falling in love with an older man, art student Rosie finds herself living a survivalist lifestyle to keep her small daughter, Miranda, alive. Abandoned in a wilderness cabin for weeks at a time, Rosie and Miranda forge a new and different kind of existence. But when their family patriarch reenters the picture, bringing treachery to their doorstep, wife and mother Rosie must make a harrowing choice in Melanie Finn's The Hare."
—K.W. Colyard, Bustle
"The most anticipated books of January 2021"
"The Hare’s main character, Rosie, could be any of us. Imperfect yet formidable, she confronts patriarchy and expectations of womanhood in this smart... literary thriller."
—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine
"Finn's achievement lies in creating a character whose lifelong grappling with her body becomes a specific, believable experience of feminist womanhood, one that continues to surprise the reader through the novel's final pages."
—Amy Lilly, Seven Days
"Finn manages this complex three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle with great skill. Poverty and wealth, sexuality and gender, a woman’s body and the demands and limits that society places upon it, child abuse and pedophilia, the ethics of stealing and killing all swirl around this narrative... I look forward to her next book with great anticipation."
—Michael F. Epstein, Brattleboro Reformer
"Entrancing... [The Hare] is a thrilling story that sucks readers in almost immediately, its protagonist as fascinating as she is flawed."
—Lauren Puckett, Shelf Awareness
"The Hare gives us an important, comprehensive picture of the stages of a woman’s learning, suggesting, that over time, teachers will be rejected, new ones sought, and the student might herself become a teacher. The need to adapt, however, to be on guard, to figure out new methods of surviving will be life-long, the way it is for an animal in the wild, hyper-conscious of its vulnerability."
—Marta Balcewicz, Ploughshares
"The Hare themes are timeless, but its particulars are so topical it feels like it was written yesterday: it’s informed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh’s confirmation hearings into allegations of sexual assault and the casual, insidious misogyny that gave rise to the #MeToo movement, as well as the power dynamics of gender and class."
—Nathalie Atkinson, EverythingZoomer
"11 of the most intriguing fiction titles (January 2021)"
"[Melanie Finn] renders all of the historical, cultural, and natural details of the region as only a Vermont inhabitant could—the beauty and decay; the wealth and poverty; the mixed-up politics, the backwoods crimes; the chicken shit and roadkill; the tools and skills that the protagonist, Rosie Monroe, a young, single mother, would need to survive after her lying older boyfriend abandons her and their infant in a drifty cabin in the middle of nowhere... The other truly captivating characters in the book are also women, ranging from the enigmatic Billy Mix, to a female cop who investigates various crimes against women, including a series of murders along the Vermont-New Hampshire border, as well as the possible predation of minors committed by Rosie’s boss, a chicken farmer. As this cop states in blunt terms to Rosie, she’s trying to solve various “incidents of male dickery.” These moments speak to the novel’s ever-present themes of female autonomy and strength in contrast to male ideocracy, greed, and ineptitude."
—Franky Frances Cannon
"Graphic book review of The Hare"
"Melanie Finn’s new psychological thriller about a woman navigating the world of men while trying to protect those she loves will certainly inspire a sense of urgency and a cheer for the underdog in anyone who dives into it."
—Mariko Hewer, Washington Independent Review of Books
"Rosie’s fast-paced story exposes the dramatic brutality of ordinary life... the full measure of her experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is revealed only in shadowy pictures, and much like real-life trauma has long-lasting and complicated effects."
—Pearl McAndrews, Women’s Review of Books
"The author has constructed a compelling, emotionally resonant story with closely observed details that make the reader flinch in recognition. Finn’s prose is sublime."
—Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, Late Last Night Books
"The Hare by Melanie Finn will make you angry, and hopefully more wiser. You will replace the black and white in your colour palette, to different hues of grey. Complicit is not a term that you will be comfortable with. This is by far one of the best literary novels that I’ve read in 2021, and it’s one that will affect my decisions for the rest of my life. A literary masterpiece, that feels so personal, yet removed."
(Read the full review of The Hare on Sukasa Reads)
"Finn’s prose has a painful beauty to it, the allure of the writing illuminated by the subtle horror of the plot... The Hare is the type of book you will appreciate even more after stepping away and reflecting upon it, as the tale lingers in the back of your mind."
—Beth Mowbray, The Nerd Daily
"Following Rosie’s story through the decades, The Hare is a critical examination of one woman’s struggle not only to survive but also to rear her daughter in such a way as to protect her from the same hardships Rosie herself has undergone."
—Doreen Sheridan, Criminal Element
"The Hare is a modern The Awakening. I’m convinced it’ll go down as a modern feminist classic."
—Mandy Shunnarah, Off the Beaten Shelf
"This thought-provoking literary thriller... brilliantly depicts the effects of patriarchy on women and their sense of duty to please men. This resilient heroine embodies the evolution of feminism in a male-dominant society, making this a poignant story for our time."
—Emily Park, Booklist starred review
"An elegant writer of unconventional thrillers, Finn has a gift for weaving existential and political concerns through tautly paced prose."
—Molly Young, Vulture
"Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021"
"The initial setting in the luxurious boathouse makes you feel as though you are floating through an impressionist painting, giving Finn eager permission to drown you in a world where all the edges have been smoothed over by the easy glaze of wealth... The Hare is a novel that soars whimsically and lands with an unexpected stab in the palm of your hand; like a paper crane with a razor blade folded into its belly."
—Andrea Dreiling, Paperback Paris
"A story about the male gaze, about sexual obligation, about how much power we are granted as women. Daring and unputdownable, The Hare is set to be one of the most talked-about books of 2021."
—Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire
"Reminiscent of Amina Cain or Barbara Comyns, The Hare follows Rosie Monroe as she is scooped out of her blue-collar existence by a dazzling, older man and pulled into the glitzy world of 1980s New York... A thrilling story suffused with all rage of a feminist awakening."
—Book Culture Bookstore
"Our Most Anticipated Books of January 2021"
"The Hare is a bold and authentic novel concerned with the time-consuming, socially defiant, and brutal work of women’s self-actualization."
—Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews
"Finn’s propulsive latest tackles power dynamics shaped by gender, age, and class via the harrowing story of an art school dropout who is seduced by a man who turns out to be a thieving con artist... This lurid tale will keep readers turning the pages."
"Finn is a master of complication made visible through taut and beautiful words. I highly recommend this book."
—Samantha Kolber, New Pages Blog
"Rosie has to make tough choices throughout her life in order to ensure both she and her daughter Miranda survive. The Hare was a fast read... I don’t envy Rosie and the many woman out there who have had to make similar choices."
—Lisa Day, NewmarketToday
"A New York art student's love affair with a much-older man leaves her raising a daughter in an unheated Vermont cabin."
—K.W. Colyard, Bustle
"The Best Books of Winter 2021"
"The Hare is about Rosie’s life, her survival, her coming to terms with herself and finding courage. It’s art. Art at its truest, rawest, and prettiest. It’s an experience you feel in your bones. It’s something you live. Something you breathe in and exhale... I loved The Hare. I cannot put it any better. I adored it."
—Rain R, The Withering Blog
"The Hare hits all the notes for a great novel you will read obsessively. Melanie Finn has written the breathtaking story of the life of Rose Monroe whose entire trajectory was determined at age eighteen by a chance (?) meeting with an older man at MOMA. However, Bennett isn’t who he claims to be. Because of this, despite this, Rose grows into a powerful woman who isn’t diminished by her dire circumstances. She is a survivor. This brilliant book contains a subtext involving dark, abhorrent behavior."
—Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)
"Melanie Finn has painted a swirling canvas of a novel, sharp-edged and layered. And like a great work of art, one that the reader cannot look away from for long."
—Marvin Minkler, The North Star Monthly
(Read the full review of The Hare)
"This is the story of Rosie. The one in Massachusetts who was in art school. The story of Rosie who met the wrong man, lived for a while in a fancy estate in Connecticut just long enough for a girl to be born, and was then hustled off to hide in the woods — to lead a rough life with a wood stove for cooking and not much else. She and Miranda were left to fend for themselves while the wrong man traveled “who knows where” in search of “who knows what.” But life went on and is recorded in the pages of this beautifully written literary triumph that you will want to treasure once you’ve dipped inside. It's full of art and female ideas and the kind of perseverance that lifts the spirit. I envy you your discovery."
—Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore (Spokane, WA)
"First must-read of 2021! Melanie Finn's The Hare is just the right blend of suspense and literary prowess, and it's perfect for a snowed-in January day. Rosie, Finn's protagonist, who we get to spend time with for thirty-plus years, spends the book haunted by her past. Childhood trauma blends into the sexual, artistic expectation and obligation of early adulthood, into early motherhood survival, into middle-aged motherhood and a reassertion of individualism, and so on. Her evolution is fascinating, her resolve is inspiring, and her journey is both extraordinary and all too common to so many women who experience everyday sexism and sexual trauma throughout their lives. This is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of a woman who was denied the chance to become the woman she imagined in her youth, but thirty years later, is finally ready to try again."
—Margaret Leonard, Dotters Books (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)
"A beautiful and powerful book—literature that reads like a thriller. It follows the arc of a woman's life and how it was shaped for better or worse by the awful men that surrounded her. It tackles big issues in an original way."
—Alana Haley, Schuler Books (Grand Rapids and Okemos, Michigan)
"Rosie Monroe, the protagonist of The Hare, is every woman and Everywoman. She battles her past, classism, sexism and her own pre-conceived notions of what power is. Her story is compelling in and of itself, but it is elevated to literature by Finn’s evocative and sometimes hair-raising prose. Bottom line this is a powerful book and a powerful character, I was cheering for Rosie the whole way."
—Kim Crady-Smith, Green Mountain Books and Prints (Lyndonville, VT)
"With The Hare, Melanie Finn has written a powerful story of female perseverance, strength, and resilience. This book has rare qualities: beautiful writing while being absolutely unputdownable, and I will be pressing it into the hands of every reader I know."
—Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days, Swimming Lessons, Bitter Orange, and Unsettled Ground
"The Hare begins in dread, with a speeding car, and an older man and young naïve woman heading into the darkness. Nothing good can come of this, you think, but Melanie Finn surprises again and again. As harrowing as the novel is, page by page, the prose is luminous as it follows Rosie’s survival in the danger and beauty of the far north. The Hare is a brilliant, unflinching tale of gender, power, and entrapment."
—Maria Hummel, author of Still Lives, Motherland, House and Fire
Praise for Melanie Finn's The Underneath:
"Finn does an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing, and the tension in the narrative always comes across as organic, never manipulative. The Underneath is an excellent thriller, and Finn has a gift for prose that's hard-boiled but not clichéd. Perhaps most important, her characters are true to life... There's much to admire about The Underneath, and Finn's third novel proves that she's deeply original, a writer who's not content with rehashing old tropes that have become overly familiar in some thrillers."
—Michael Schaub, Star Tribune
"A musk of sex and menace soaks three narrative strands, expertly braided... Finn writes with a phrasing flare on par with Lauren Groff’s... Her curiosity and dread drive the novel and move her toward a terrifying denouement... Finn puts her readers on the knife’s edge."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred
READ MORE ON THE UNDERNEATH PAGE.
Praise for Melanie Finn's The Gloaming:
"Deeply satisfying. Finn is a remarkably confident and supple storyteller. [The Gloaming] deserves major attention."
—John Williams, New York Times
"In this richly textured, intricately plotted novel, [Finn] assures us that heartbreak has the same shape everywhere. The Gloaming is chillingly cinematic in contrasting East Africa’s exquisite landscape with the region’s human needs. Yet even in a malevolent setting, Finn shows us acts of selflessness and redemption. Her fascination with the duality of Africa — “the most honest place on earth” — shines fiercely."
—Lisa Zeidner, New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
READ MORE ON THE GLOAMING PAGE.