Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Goodnight, Beautiful Women

by Anna Noyes

An electrifying debut by sensational new literary talent Anna Noyes, Goodnight, Beautiful Women surveys the residents of small New England coastal towns in tales that probe boundaries of familial intimacy, coming-of-age sexuality, desirous girlhood, and lost love.

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date June 07, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2484-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $24.00

About The Book

Moving along the Maine Coast and beyond, the interconnected stories in Goodnight, Beautiful Women bring us into the sultry, mysterious inner lives of New England women and girls as they navigate the dangers and struggles of their outer worlds. With novelistic breadth and a quicksilver emotional intelligence, Noyes explores the ruptures and vicissitudes of growing up and growing old, and shines a light on our most uncomfortable impulses while masterfully charting the depths of our murky desires.

A young wife watches her husband throw their earthly possessions one by one into the local quarry, before vanishing himself; two girls from very different social classes find themselves deep in the throes of a punishing affair; a motherless teenager is sexually awakened in the aftermath of a local trauma; and a woman’s guilt from a childhood lie about her intellectually disabled cousin reverberates into her married years.

Dark and brilliant, rhythmic and lucid, Goodnight, Beautiful Women marks the arrival of a fearless and unique young new voice in American fiction.


“Assured and atmospheric, tender and melancholy, these stories of women adrift linger in the mind like music. I love them.” —Karen Thompson Walker

“Noyes’ achievement here is nothing less than a high-wire act: precise, fearless, breathtaking. She casts an unwavering gaze on the nature of frailty and desire, offering up gem after gem in this sensuous and startling debut.” —Téa Obreht

“With terrible grace, these stories bring to light the peril hidden within the mundane, and cast their enthralling shadow on characters that ache like you yourself have ached at your most private moments. Anna Noyes is a revelation.” —Alexandra Kleeman

“Lucid, sensual . . . If the fiction of Stephen King and Alice Munro had a literary love child, it might look like this: luminous domestic moments married to a pervasive sense of threat . . . Noyes is a master of disturbing juxtapositions that interpolate childhood games with sexuality, suggesting something dangerous in both . . . appealingly frank and astute . . . Noyes’s prose is admirably restrained, and the real drama remains that of character, the mystery we are to ourselves.” —Washington Post

“Artful . . . [the stories] consistently sparkle with expressive detail . . . with sympathy and skill . . . Noyes’s knack for lucid prose includes providing her characters with simple language that nevertheless grasps an understanding of complex human dynamics.” —New York Times Book Review

“Set largely in coastal Maine, Anna Noyes’s stunning debut collection concerns girls and women struggling to break away, dealing with burdens like mental illness and neglect that threaten to transform and define them.” —Wall Street Journal, “The Season’s Most Exciting Fiction Reads”

“Noyes’ first collection follows women, young and old, grappling with the unmoored moments of their lives . . . The characters in Noyes’ 11 stories do not shy from their imperfections as they search for those fleeting, ambiguous moments of resolution.” —Booklist

“Noyes is as sensuous as she is grounded . . . The beauty of her language, with its rhythmic pulls and earthy descriptions are captivating . . . a promising debut from such a young and gifted writer.” —Travel + Leisure

“Noyes does not flinch from heavy topics. Her stories are nuanced and unapologetic, revealing the shadow sides of women and girls in all their wild and terrible glory . . . these tender and brutal stories will pierce your core like a hook in the gut, shimmering with raw pain and heartache and the desperate desire to survive. Because despite the darkness in these stories, the women and girls within always discover something about themselves and grow a little bit stronger. They’re sometimes thoroughly lost, maybe irrevocably damaged, and uncertain what to do next, but in Noyes’s talented hands, you’re left with the certainty that these tough and wild and messed-up women are going to figure it out. They’re going to be okay.” —The Rumpus

“A debut as rich and quiet as a walk in the dark . . . Noyes does nothing to romanticize rough-and-tumble girlhood. She plunges into it, floats in its muddiness, and emerges to gaze on it without appraisal, like a hiker meditating on a pond.” —Huffington Post

“An exemplary debut. [These] are the short stories you use to teach the craft, to exemplify how language can function at its best, its sparsest and sharpest . . . Each of the works is self-contained and a masterpiece in and of itself, but they build—and careful readers will note patterns, resonance. Noyes’ tone shifts subtly between her narratives and narrators—each piece a unique snapshot, and, as a whole, a vivid and captivating triumph. This collection is rich, ripe for rereading.” —Bookreporter

“Noyes is a master . . . Goodnight, Beautiful Women glimmers.” —Portland Press Herald

“I read Goodnight, Beautiful Women in one ravenous sitting. Every one of these stories has a moment of subtle, delicious heartbreak (sometimes driving the story, sometimes in the periphery). With exceptional delicacy and grace, Noyes cracks opens the most ordinary moments and offers us their painful core. Often I found myself baffled that such simple details (a child’s fingers beneath a door, the ache of a missing tooth during first sex, the smell of a banished stepfather’s jacket) can contain so much. And yet she doesn’t posture or try too hard. She simply has an instinct for what might be remembered later, when the importance of an event finally reveals itself. Noyes’s prose is precise, skillful, and full of raw emotion. It’s some of the most elegant writing I’ve come across recently.” —Dina Nayeri

“Seductive, smart, and erotic, Anna Noyes’ stories evoke with beautiful clarity love and sexual awakening. She is a most exciting discovery.” —Lily King

“The thing us, some literature has personality. It shows a human being wrote it, not a machine. It is the one voice, the one soul, the real live touch of a singular hand. That is mastery and it is Anna Noyes.” —Carolyn Chute

“Silky, lucid . . . fluid, raw, and strikingly original.” —Publishers Weekly

“In stories both hypnotic and precise, Goodnight, Beautiful Women immerses us in a Maine unseen by ‘summer people’—an uneasily beautiful place of cloistered towns where ‘you can’t keep anything to yourself.’ These stories shine with prismatic, perfectly rendered settings, but more brilliant still is the delicacy with which Noyes unspools the inner lives of her characters. Here are young women haunted by long-ago lies and shameful betrayals, whose pasts are kept achingly close to the surface by hometowns that will neither forget nor forgive. This feels like no debut at all, but a voice fully formed.” —Casey Walker

“Anna Noyes has the gift. Her sentences sing with a gentle perfection, almost as if to themselves, and her characters seem to enter the page cradling years of experience inside them. It is a joy—and the sweetest kind of heartache—to watch her making her swift way story by story to their hearts.” —Kevin Brockmeier

“This is an extraordinary book of stories. Many of the characters are anchored to coastal Maine, but a particular quality of wildness animates nearly all of them. The stories are energetic, often mysterious, and beautifully written, and they will stay in your memory long after you finish the book.” —Charles Baxter

“A mesmerizing collection of stories by one of America’s most exciting young writers, Goodnight, Beautiful Women moves us along and around the coast of Maine and into the intimate lives of its inhabitants. These pages are full of moments that are wrenching, funny, and lit by a deeply sensuous attention to the small betrayals and sacrifices our dreams leave in their wake. Tender yet unsentimental, unflinchingly bold but full of beauty, Anna Noyes’ debut collection lingers in the mind well beyond its final paragraph. A book to fall in love with.” —Jonathan Lee

“Noyes writes convincingly about the landscape . . . and the working class . . . Though the stories, told from various points of view, contain threats of violence from rapists and molesters, the greatest menace comes from the harm the young female protagonists seem capable of bringing on themselves . . . [Noyes is] a writer who values nuance over tidy endings. These flawed female characters struggle to survive against threats both external and internal in this well-written debut.” —Kirkus Reviews


A New York Times Editors’ Choice
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Summer Selection
An Indie Next Pick for June


From “Treelaw”

At O’Connor’s store today everyone, even the coffee brandy crowd in the back room, especially them, seemed to know Dad was dead. In a place like Treelaw you can’t keep anything to yourself. Dollie O’Connor leaned over the counter to make her loud, phlegmy apologies, then peered down at my kid to say, “I hope you have it better than your folks, little lady. Don’t you throw out your life like Granddad did.” Kimmy’s three and just learning it’s polite to shake hands, so she stuck out her hand, red from the Fla-Vor-Ice we shared in the car.

“Isn’t she cunning?” said Dollie. She said it like the words were something sour to spit out. Kimmy hid her face in my skirt, her breath hot against my leg. I was thinking all babies are mouth breathers. I was thinking too that Dollie is a cunt.

Everyone knows about the six-inch scar she gave her ex-boyfriend when she pushed him into scrap metal, and that there’s only one rotty peach for sale because she spent the store money on pills. It’s no secret Dollie snuck by a neighbor’s trailer when her boyfriend was sleeping around and killed all the neighbor’s chickens and a pig.