From “Three Women” Lisa Taddeo to “The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress” by Ariel Lawhon.
This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are here in this graphic.
This month we started with “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo.
I haven’t read “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo but Amazon says that this is a non-fiction book, which is “Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power. It is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy, that introduces us to three unforgettable women—and one remarkable writer—whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.” So, here’s my first stab at a chain beginning with a non-fiction book, one based on long years of study, which sounds like some of which could be very shocking to read, indeed.
First Degree. Something real and possibly shocking? Well, this immediately made me think of Maggie O’Farrell’s recent memoir “I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death.” I already knew that O’Farrell was an amazing writer, and since I’ve read ALL of her books, I knew I had to read this as well. But that didn’t prepare me for what this book had in store. This book scared me, but it also made me admire O’Farrell even more than I already admired her. Furthermore, with that title, you’ll be surprised at how very hopeful and uplifting this book ended up being. It made me cry uncontrollably and the ending left me totally speechless (and I’m surprised I actually could write a review for this book), it was such an emotional roller-coaster. But don’t let that put you off reading it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Second Degree. Yes, I said I was speechless. That’s not a common thing for me. So, what if I use that word for my connection to my next book? Okay, so not completely speechless, but what if we were limited to speaking only 100 words a day? I’m talking about the dystopian novel “VOX” by Christina Dalcher. In this novel, Dalcher envisions a world where women have been subjugated so far that they lose almost everything to become the submissive people men have wanted to make them into for eons. Of course, every rule has its exceptions (when it is convenient for those who make those laws). The question is, what would you do if you had the chance to make yourself and your daughter into one of those chosen few? I don’t usually read these kinds of books, but this one was really compelling.
Third Degree. The above choice could easily have trapped me into a corner, but I think I found my way out of it by going the route of “how far are you willing to go to save your own child” which takes me immediately to the recently released novel by Meg Waite Clayton, “The Last Train to London” which tells the story of Geertruida Wijsmuller, aka “Tante Truus” the Dutch, Christian woman who saved over 10,000 mostly Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazis through what came to be known as the Kindertransport. I didn’t know anything about Truus, but I did know about the Kindertansport, since I knew two people who were on it, including a relative of my husband’s. While that made this story personal for me, I think my assessment of this novel was completely fair. I’m so glad that MWC wrote this novel to inform the world of this one woman’s resistance work during WWII.
Forth Degree. Another book that was somewhat personal for me, was “What the Lady Wants” by Renee Rosen. This is another biographical, historical fiction novel about Delia Spencer Caton, the woman who was the lover of Marshall Field, the man who invented the concept of a department store. Why is that personal to me? Because one of my first jobs was with Chicago’s iconic Marshall Field’s & Co. I worked part time for them during the school year when I was in High School and full time during the summers, as a salesperson in their store for men in their branch in Evanston. I remember that time very fondly, and I also knew that I wasn’t just working for a shop, I was working for an institution. It taught me a great deal, not the least of which was Field’s own policy of “the customer is always right,” which lives on to this day, despite the fact that the stores are all gone, and sold to Macy’s.
Fifth Degree. Ah, Chicago, that toddling town! Aside from it being the place of my birth as well as the birthplace of Marshall Field’s, do you know what else has always been very special about Chicago? Its architecture! Which brings me to yet another biographical, historical fiction novel, “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan. In this book, we learn about yet another adulterous relationship, this one between Mamah Borthwick Cheney, and one of the world’s most fascinating, and innovative architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. I have always loved his homes, and because much of his work still stands in and around Chicago, I’ve had the opportunity to visit several of them when I lived there in my youth. This story was therefore a “must read” for me, and it is well worth reading.
Sixth Degree. It looks like I’ve got a couple of books that tell the stories of women who committed adultery with a famous or well-known person here. That makes my last book in this chain very easy to pick. I’m going with “The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress” which was the debut novel of Ariel Lawhon, and the book that made me an immediate fan of her writing (and she hasn’t disappointed me since)! This was an absolutely fascinating biographical, historical fiction story about the three women in the life of Judge Joseph Force Crater, who suddenly disappeared on August 6, 1930, and the mystery of his disappearance has yet to be solved. If you read this amazing book, don’t miss out on the author’s notes which includes a little surprise regarding how fiction sometimes mirrors reality!
Well, how about that? It seems that with this last book, I’ve made a connection to the first book in the chain, since it too is about three women, and “Three Women” was our starting point! How cool is that?
If you don’t know any of these books, I hope you’ll click on the links to my reviews and check them out!
If you decide to join in on this meme, I hope you’ll give me the link to your post in the comments below, as well as on the linky page that Kate has on her blog for this meme.
Next month (November 2, 2019), we will start with “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.