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The Worst Kind of Want

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  479 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A trip to Italy reignites a woman's desires to disastrous effect in this dark ode to womanhood, death, and sex

To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that's starting to feel like one long decline.

Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to k
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by MCD
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Average rating 3.23  · 
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 ·  479 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Larry H
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Pricilla Messing has had it with being the responsible one. She's tired of caring for her elderly mother, especially after having to care for her father before his death. She always took a back seat to the relationship between her mother and her younger sister, who was more beautiful and more exciting. Part of her wants to put her mother in an assisted living facility, sell the house, and start some new adventure, but she feels too tethered to her responsibilities.

When Cilla's brother-in-law cal
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

" . . . I slide a cigarette out, bringing it to my nose. It smells just like [Donato]. I fix the filter between my lips, tonguing it a little, just so I know what it tastes like. Starchy, slightly floral. The match makes a satisfying sound, a loud scratch. I inhale deeply. It tastes delicious. I get light-headed, but I don't put it out. I let it burn, like incense." -- Pricilla the protagonist, on page 58

Pricilla Manning is in her early 40's, a career-minded woman in movie production wh
DNF at 10%

Maybe readers who aren't Italian—or know very little about Italy—might be able to overlook the clichés and blunders in this novel. In this day and age, it's fairly easy to find out information about other countries. You could just ask on Quora....
The thing is that it is tone deaf: there are the occasional Italian words peppered here and there—I guess to give it a more 'genuine' flavour—but, for the most part, the way these Italian characters speak sounds false.
Jacobs applies English f
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This perfect self-isolation novel. Liska Jacobs has created a dangerous psychological tale following a woman caught up in the unnerving throes of middle age desire. It plays out like a house on fire against its luscious Italian background, like Under the Tuscan Sun gone darkly, desperately wrong.

In her first novel, Catalina, Liska Jacobs showed a taste for extremes and her best characters are these transgressive women who did not realize their potential for defiance and duplicity, but discover
Jessica Sullivan
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Liska Jacobs second novel is again about a woman on the path of self-destruction and she writes this character well.

Cilla has spent many years of her life grieving the loss of her sister and taking care of her mother. Her longtime boyfriend, nearly 20 years her senior, is pursuing women half her age. Now pushing her mid 40s, she takes a trip to Italy to check up on her teenage niece, Hannah. While there, she gets swept up into an affair with Donato, a 17-year-old Italian boy who Hannah loves.

Zinzi Blackbeard
Dec 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I loved the perspective that people have lust and want to be desire at any age. I found the ending highly rushed and affirming of negative gender norms about what happens when women do things they “shouldn’t” as well as weird message about sexual predators.
Gabrielle Jarrett
Dec 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I am conflicted about assigning one star as I think to have one's book written and published is a great accomplishment. However, I truly did not like the book. I found it sophomoric. The dialogue was trite and boring. The flashbacks were not placed well or clearly. The surprises were not surprises because the foreshadowing was obvious and blatant. The one interesting part was the parallel between the narrator's experience of being prey to a predator 30 years older than her at 14 and maintaining ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
3.5 rounded down

A great read for those hot summer days, The Worst Kind of Want follows Cilla on a trip to Rome. In her early forties and escaping from having to care for her deteriorating mother back in America, Cilla travels to Rome to spend time with her brother-in-law, Paul, and teenage niece, Hannah. During the heady summer days Cilla becomes embroiled in the life of Donato, an Italian teenager who has befriended her niece. Things spiral from here to an inevitable and dramatic conclusion.

Lolly K Dandeneau
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'I have not thought about my wants in so long that the flood of them makes me light-headed.'

Priscilla “Cilla” is only 43 but feels like life has aged her beyond her years, living with her mother whom is now in rehabilitation at a nursing home. Mother, needy, bitter and resentful, forcing her to placate her demands. Every visit feels like drudgery, reminding her of how stifling her life has become. Since the death of Cilla’s sister, her brother-i
Heather Scott Partington
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: Liska Jacobs is a good friend.

Liska Jacobs writes bad women well. Fans of her 2017 novel, Catalina already know this; there's a thrill in watching her heroines self-destruct. In her newest book, The Worst Kind of Want, Jacobs delivers again. Priscilla Messing is a 43-year-old former producer living in Los Angeles in the shadow of her parents' celebrity. Rejecting the doldrums of caring for her ailing mother, she escapes to Italy, ostensibly to help her widowed brother-in-law wit
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Priscilla has been asked by his brother-in-law to spend time with him and his troubled daughter in Italy. Priscilla jumps at the chance because she wants to get away from her overbearing mother and her ex-boyfriend. Italy provides plenty of distraction in the form of a young Italian who happens to be the crush of her niece. Sexy, atmospheric and flanked by a flawed and complex character, this is great for fans of Delia Ephron or Matthew Weiner.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.
Race Bannon
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
An immature 40something year old going gaga
over a seventeen year old? Pathetic.
Not a good book.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I began the book hopeful yet as it progressed and 'Zia Cilla' falls apart piece by piece, it was predictable and uninteresting. I most definitely thought the ending was a shoddy way to end the conflict between her, her niece and the young man- EASY WAY OUT.
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A woman gives in to her dark, and very human, impulses in this twisted, compelling, and ultimately moving novel. The writing is excellent, reminding me of Deborah Levy and Michel Houellebecq.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Utter drivel.
Meet cool, calm and collected Pricilla (Cilla) Messing, a woman for whom her upcoming trip to Italy will hopefully be a brief break from a life that has gone into free-fall.

Cilla, 43, spends most of her time caring for her difficult mum. Following a plea from her brother-in-law Paul, an author, to oversee her rebellious teenage niece, Hannah who has become wayward and unruly she heads off to Rome. But rather than babysitting Hannah, Cilla feels that the time has come to let her hair down a l
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved Liska Jacob’s first novel, Catalina - so I was super excited to receive an advance copy of her upcoming book in exchange for an honest review.

The description: A trip to Italy reignites a woman’s desires to disastrous effect in this dark ode to womanhood, death and sex.

There’s something special about Jacob’s writing. It‘s sinister and a little tense... the characters are complex and though I didn’t necessarily relate to them, I was intrigued. Similar to how she portrayed Cata
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
The Worst Kind of Want
The magic of Italy sparks Pricilla way more than it should for a forty something woman that feels the need to let loose. After years of caring for her mother and the death of her sister, Cilla is asked by her brother in law to come to Italy and care for her teenaged niece. Once their Cilla bounces back to her youth and starts partying. Reckless,thoughtless behavior and the consequences of it. I could feel Cilla's pain. The wedge between right and wrong, desire and disaster.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was touted as a mix of Ottessa Moshfegh and Patricia Highsmith, and although it wasn't that, I do think it would appeal to those readers. It's about the self-destructive downward spiral of a woman in her 40's dealing with grief. I found the last page very, very affecting, and it changed my understanding of the whole novel. ...more
Jayne Lamb
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Much darker than I was expecting. Not a feel-good beach read, but the author has a deft, relateable touch.
William Jacobs
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you like something dark yet clever that will make your head spin so you think about some real stuff... I would highly recommend this novel for you.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Jun 22, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cilla is a middle-aged single woman with heavy responsibilities as caregiver to her ailing parents, and as capable right-hand producer to her director ex. Jaded by the mundane chores of caregiving, she jumps at the invitation to fly to Italy for a bit to help rein in her wayward niece. Over in Rome, she soaks in the sun and sea and drinks, and leaves her worries behind in the name of poor cell reception. The "worst kind of want" refers to her lust for a young teenage boy, and also the desire to ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have loved this book. It is very well-written, skillfully plotted and structured – and it has the all-important personal tie-in: It is largely set in Puglia (along with Rome and Southern California), where I lived for several years. This wasn't the Puglia that I knew, however, and even nostalgia wasn’t enough to carry me over the top with this story.

When I began serious reading as a very young person in the 1960s, it frustrated me that so much of the highly-praised fiction on offer cons
Crystal Hicks
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
When reading this story of a middle aged woman’s lust for a much younger man, I find myself judging a woman’s midlife crisis more harshly than a man’s. Or is it (thankfully) that we’re no longer subjected to those as often, given the current climate? (We’ve come a long way, baby?) Maybe I’m over such self-centered navel gazing as a middle aged person myself. The whole notion is a cop out. Who doesn’t want to be young again? Who doesn’t envy those without cares? All in all, Cilla comes off as pre ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
A respectable novel, but one that just didn’t quite live up to its great beginning. THE WORST KIND OF WANT, set in Italy as Cilla, a single 43 year, travels there to look after her niece who recently lost her mother. As Cilla grapples with the loss of her sister, the attraction she feels to her niece’s young boyfriend, and the nature of aging in general, we see that Cilla still has a lot to learn about being an adult.

I felt like I sort of muddled through the book, unfortunately. Not a lot happe
David Olsen
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible second novel. Everyone should read this.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
"I want to say, There are things I know that would wipe that smile off your face."

I think this is where I have to admit that Jacobs is decidedly an author, in my book, who falls into the currently very in-vogue trap of writing well, but apparently being terrified of allowing actual compelling plot or great character detail to ever emerge. Her craft is good, and her words flow well, which means she writes quick and smooth reads, but that isn't enough. I have to give a shit about these characters,
judy-b. judy-b.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm really bummed that I did not love this book, because I think it tries to say things that are way underexposed in lit and life. Not one character showed deep emotion, or much inner reflection, so the themes (aging, family relationships, abuse and its aftermath) were not emotionally resonant for me. Jacobs took care to describe the setting and life in Italy, but the details felt mechanical, unenthusiastic like she was listing Italian things to make sure the setting felt authentic, but they did ...more
Daniel Cuthbert
Pricilla Messing needs a bit of a break.

Having to deal with the loss of her sister and dad, as well as having to play constant caregiver for her aging mother, she is starting to feel much older than her 43 years. So when given the opportunity to go to Rome to help watch over her niece, Hannah, she doesn’t hesitate to experience not only a completely new culture, but give herself the opportunity to live a little. But the picturesque sites spark painful memories while the friendly natives, includ
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Liska Jacobs is the author of two acclaimed novels, Catalina and The Worst Kind of Want both published by MCD | FSG. To quote a review in The Believer: "The Worst Kind of Want presents Jacobs at her best: thinking through the fraught ethical problems and pitfalls of desire... Jacobs is establishing herself as a novelist who can probe what it means to be both selfish and vulnerable, asking with bal ...more

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36 likes · 6 comments
“Want is insatiable. Even the gods were never satisfied.” 0 likes
“I take a drag on the joint and exhale just as Hannah comes out with the aperitifs. “Aunt Cilla!” she cries. “I can’t believe Donato got you to smoke pot!” Her amusement embarrasses me and I try to sit up taller, straighten my blouse and slacks. But twilight is finally waning, evening is almost here, and my eyes are having a hard time adjusting to the change in light. “I’m hungry,” comes Donato’s voice, and then Hannah has switched places with him, wiggling in close. “Sorry it took me so long, Papa called. I said we were seeing a movie.” 0 likes
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