In the tradition of Zoe Heller’s What Was She ThinkingNotes on a ScandalThe New Neighbor is a darkly sophisticated novel about an old woman’s curiosity turned into a dangerous obsession as she becomes involved in her new neighbor’s complicated and cloaked life.

Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is content hiding from the world. Stoic and independent, she rarely leaves the Tennessee mountaintop where she lives, finding comfort in the mystery novels that keep her company, that is, until she spots a woman who’s moved into the long-empty house across the pond. Jennifer Young is also looking to hide. On the run from her old life, she and her four-year-old son Milo have moved to a quiet town where no one from her past can find her. In Jennifer, Margaret sees both a potential companion in her loneliness and a mystery to be solved. But Jennifer refuses to talk about herself, her son, his missing father, or her past. Frustrated, Margaret crosses more and more boundaries in pursuit of the truth, threatening to unravel the new life Jennifer has so painstakingly created—and reveal some secrets of her own.




“In simple, elegant language, Leah Stewart draws us to a little pond hidden away in the mountains of Tennessee . . . Stewart never relaxes her tight focus on these complex characters.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Stewart deftly writes about the nuances of friendship and motherhood, as well as the past’s unpleasant ability to take over the present.”

“Responsibility and atonement lie at the heart of Stewart’s intricately meditative novel, which shows just how deeply a person must dig in order to uncover the truth about one’s self and those one loves. Keenly engrossing and multilayered.”

“A gripping meditation on the nature of truth, love and identity.”
—Cincinnati City Beat

“A chilling page-turner.”
—People Magazine

“As tense and as tough-minded and as ingeniously structured as our best mystery novels, and our best literary novels, too. A major new book by one of our most psychologically astute writers.”
Brock Clarke, author of The Happiest People in the World

“Stewart's prose is remarkable for its well-shaped sentences and nonshowy but sharp observations. Quietly incisive.”
—Kirkus Reviews 

“The New Neighbor is a thoughtful study of the masks we wear and the complex fictions we present to others, intentionally or by default, whether we like it or not.”
—Chapter 16

“Leah Stewart skillfully captures conversational nuance and family alienation.”
—The Charlotte Observer


“After only a few pages into Leah Stewart's "The New Neighbor" (Touchstone), the shrewd sharp voice of one of its main characters kept me reading.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel