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Rachel Pastan's Alena
is at once a meticulously reconstructed death scene and an intelligent conversation about the nature of art; this skillfully crafted novel, which sustains the tension of a ghost story, is both an homage to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and an insightful meditation on our obsessive preoccupation with death - simultaneously creepy and entrancing.

— John Irving

Alena cover



Now Out In Paperback


Longreads says: "Sometimes a book that is wonderful and well-told and riveting is overlooked. I believe this is the case with Rachel Pastan's Alena."

Literary New England calls Alena "an ideal book to enjoy outside on a park bench, at the beach or under the hugging branches of an oak or willow tree."



In an inspired restaging of Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca, a young curator finds herself haunted by the legacy of her predecessor.

It's been two years since the tragic death of Alena, curator at the Nauk, a cutting-edge art museum on Cape Cod. At the Venice Biennale, Bernard Augustin, the Nauk's wealthy, enigmatic founder—to whom Alena had been childhood friend and muse—offers the position to an aspiring young curator from the Midwest. It's the job of her dreams, and she dives at the chance.

Just as quickly, she finds herself well out of her depth. The Nauk echoes with phantoms of the past—a past obsessively preserved by the museum's staff—and the newcomer's every move mires her more deeply in artistic, erotic, and emotional entanglements. When new evidence calls into question the circumstances of Alena's death, shattering secrets surface, putting to the test the loyalty, integrity, and courage of our heroine—who remains nameless, like the heroine of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, the inspiration for this provocative and spellbinding tale.

Select Press

Best of 2014: Pop Sugar and Grace Cavalieri and Dragon Fly Press

Reviews: New York Times, Washington Post, and Fresh Air

Profile: Philadelphia Inquirer

Rachel reading and being interviewed

Hear Rachel read from Alena at The Author's Corner.

Listen to Rachel's interview with Cindy Wolfe Boynton on The Literary New England Radio Show.

Read Rachel's Q&A with The Artist and the Librarian.