We Do What We Do in the Dark: A Novel (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
We Do What We Do in the Dark: A Novel By Michelle Hart Cover Image

We Do What We Do in the Dark: A Novel (Paperback)


On Our Shelves Now (Subject to Availability)
1 on hand, as of Oct 4 1:33am

Staff Reviews

This is Michelle Hart's debut novel and I am impatiently awaiting her next work after devouring this beautifully-written and perfectly-paced novel which follows Mallory, a college freshman mourning her mother's death as she enters an affair with an older woman: a professor of children's literature and author of picture books. This book explores so much including loneliness, grief, mother/daughter relationships, lesbian yearning, and how impactful one person can be on your own identity.


— From Staff Picks: Adult

"Hart’s novel does something exceptional that few pieces of fiction have done successfully….[H]as flashes of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends." New York Times

“An unforgettable account of a forbidden romance.”
– Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy

“Moving and memorable.” – Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion

“Sensual and wise.” – Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

A novel about a young woman’s life-altering affair with a much older, married woman.

Mallory is a freshman in college when she meets the woman. She sees her for the first time at the university’s gym, immediately entranced by this elegant, older person, whom she later learns is married and works at the school. Before long, they begin a clandestine affair. Self-possessed, successful, brilliant, and aloof, the woman absolutely consumes Mallory, who is still reeling from her mother’s death a few months earlier. Mallory retreats from the rest of the world and into a relationship with this melancholy, elusive woman she admires so much yet who can never be fully hers, solidifying a sense of solitude that has both haunted and soothed her as long as she can remember.
Years after the affair has ended, Mallory must decide whether to stay safely in this isolation, this constructed loneliness, or to step fully into the world and confront what the woman meant to her, for better or worse. This simmering, unsettling debut novel reveals the consequences of desire and influence, portraying two women whose lives have been transformed by love, loss, and secrecy.
Michelle Hart’s fiction has appeared in Joyland and Electric Literature, and she has written nonfiction for Catapult, NYLON, The Rumpus, and The New Yorker online. Previously, she was the Assistant Books Editor at O, the Oprah Magazine and Oprah Daily. She received her MFA from Rutgers-Newark and lives in New Jersey.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593329689
ISBN-10: 0593329686
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 224
Language: English
“Hart has written a realistic world where women do all the talking, to each other, and rarely about the men in their lives.... Hart’s novel does something exceptional that few pieces of fiction have done successfully: She presents the older married professor as not only a complicated figure worthy of desire and suspicion, but makes her a woman too.... We Do What We Do in the Dark has flashes of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, or Halle Butler’s The New Me. Sometimes it’s erotic, sometimes it’s devastating. Maybe this is what the new erotic thriller has morphed into in literature.... [T]he writing always crackles, written by someone who clearly knows what it’s like to desire another woman in ways you just barely understand." New York Times

“Hart debuts with a transfixing queer coming-of-age novel about a woman’s affair with a much older professor….. Mallory’s intense interiority and self-consciousness will remind readers of Sally Rooney’s work, and Hart’s prose is delicate and piercing. This is auspicious and breathtaking.” Publishers Weekly *STARRED review*

“Michelle Hart’s first novel is a haunting study of solitude and connection, moving and memorable.”
– Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings

“Seductive and lyrical with poetic detail, this is an unforgettable account of a forbidden romance made extraordinary by Hart's precision and lyrical touch. A compulsive read that satisfies and haunts.”
– Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy and Here Comes the Sun

“Michelle Hart’s coming-of-age novel skillfully depicts forbidden romance and the shame it can foster.” Time

“An electric debut.” – Marie Claire

"It is a rare debut that exhibits the authority of voice and vision that Michelle Hart gives us in We Do What We Do In The Dark."
– Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
“A gorgeous storyteller, Hart is gifted with a poet’s precision, blending image and idea. Sensual and wise, this novel channels the melancholic exhilaration of dangerous love.”
– Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“A beautiful book so filled with sharp longing and perfectly phrased vulnerability that I read it in a reverent hush.”
– Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby
“Reading this brilliant book is like holding a fierce yet trembling bird in your cupped hand, every page causes a tremble in your heart. You can’t put it down.”
– Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life