Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Booking Mamas' July Meeting

Summary: Emily Winslow was a young drama student at an elite conservatory in Pittsburgh when she was brutally raped one night in January 1992. Twenty years later, a man was arrested in New York City. His DNA, recorded in the FBI’s criminal database because of an old drug conviction, had been matched to evidence from another 1992 rape that was similar to Winslow’s, and the police were able to link the crimes. The victims—one from January of that year, the other from November—were kept anonymous in the media. This is the story of Jane Doe January.

Now a happily married mother of two living in Cambridge, England, Winslow had longed to face her attacker for years. Highly inquisitive and restless for answers, she turned her career as a crime novelist into a personal investigation—she delved into his past, reconnected with the detectives of her case, and worked with prosecutors in the months leading up to the trial. While preparing to testify back in Pennsylvania for the crime committed against her two decades prior, she was pulled between two very different worlds: a hard-boiled American drama of intense detectives and legal bureaucracy, and her rarefied new world in Cambridge, where the university’s rituals and pervasive formality were both a comfort and a challenge.

Jane Doe January is the intimate memoir of a woman’s traumatic past catching up with her. In her first work of nonfiction, Winslow vividly recounts her long quest to see her case resolved, giving way to a strikingly honest narrative about the surprise possibility of justice after twenty years. -- William Morrow

The Booking Mamas met last Friday night to discuss JANE DOE JANUARY: MY TWENTY-YEAR SEARCH FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE by Emily Winslow. Normally we meet on Tuesdays, but our hostess decided to do something a little special this month. Check out this spread:
And one of my friends made two amazing desserts. Isn't that lemon meringue pie incredible? And she "claims" it's her first attempt with meringue. Seriously?
If I'm being entirely honest, as far discussions go, it wasn't much of one. I had heard from a few members prior to our meeting that they didn't enjoy the book, and we had one who didn't read it and another few who only read the beginning and the end. I was probably the only one who actually thought the book was good... but I was the one who picked it!

Many of my friends complained that the book was too repetitive, and they got bored with it. I do think books dealing with the subjects of rape and justice are never easy to read; however, I actually appreciated the author's honesty. I didn't really find the book repetitive like the other members, but I did feel that her style conveyed just how much this event lived with her for decades. I will go more into my thoughts on this book later this week when I review it!

I also think the subject of rape just hit a little too close to home for us. The author was raped when she was in college in Pittsburgh. Almost all of us have daughters between the ages of of 15 and 17, and they will be heading off to college in just a year or two. Many of us found this book to be scary, and I know it's not something many of us want to think about.

I think my book club's biggest issue was that it's summer and everyone just would have preferred a lighter, more fun read. I thought it would be interesting to read something a little different for our group, but I obviously was the only one.

For August, we will be reading MARLENE by C.W. Gortner. I am a huge fan of Mr. Gortner's novels for years, and I adored his previous novel about Coco Chanel. I am truly thrilled that my book club all agree to this one!

Summary: From the cabarets of Weimar Berlin to the dazzling film studios of Hollywood’s golden age, an enthralling novel of a glamorous legend Maria Magdalena Dietrich was born for a life on the stage. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, the willful teenager vows to become an actress and singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited decadence of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene performs to packed houses—and becomes entangled in a series of stormy love affairs that push the boundaries of social convention—until she finds overnight success in her breakthrough film role as the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel. 

For Marlene, neither fame nor marriage and motherhood can cure her wanderlust. As Hitler rises to power, she sets sail for America. Her image as an erotic temptress captures worldwide attention, and she becomes one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, starring in one high-profile film—and affair—after another. Though Hitler tries to lure her back to Germany, Marlene chooses instead to become a citizen of her new nation, even as America enters the war against her fatherland.

But one day, she must return to Germany, escorted by General George Patton himself. In the devastated cities and the concentration camps, she comes face-to-face with how the evils of fascism transformed her country, and the family she thought she knew.

Lushly descriptive, as alluring as the lady herself, Marlene reveals the inner life of a woman of grit, glamour, and ambition who defied convention, seduced the world, and forged a path on her own terms. -- William Morrow

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I have a feeling I'd like this book more than most of your book club did. It is sad that rape is all too common on college campuses.