Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good Reads

I've read a few good books so far this year and even though I haven't managed to write a full review for any of them, I didn't want to completely ignore them either. So, here are some quick reviews of three books I think are worth reading.

Sybil Exposed: The Story Behind the Extraordinary Multiple PersonalityCase by Debbie Nathan

Growing up in the 1970s, I was very aware of the scintillating story of Sybil and her childhood of horrific abuse. My mom had a copy of the paperback on the shelves in our family room and being a curious teen-aged bookworm, I, of course, picked it up and read it. When I heard about Sybil Exposed I was completely intrigued and felt compelled to read this painstakingly researched, non-fiction book about how the story of Sybil was actually a fabrication perpetrated by Sybil's psychiatrist, a journalist and mentally unstable (and cruelly manipulated) Sybil herself. I found this book to be fascinating and shocking. Even for the time period portrayed, the behavior of Sybil's psychiatrist was shockingly unethical. One can't help but feel badly for Sybil, who very well could have been cured of her mental illness, if not for the glory seeking psychiatrist who kept her addicted to drugs and believing she was much more ill than she was. Unconscionable. I would recommend this book to anyone who was fascinated by Sybil's story and is curious to know the truth. 4 out 5 stars. I really liked it.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A novel in pictures by Caroline Preston

As the title states, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a novel in pictures. But it's not a picture book or comic book. The pages of the book are made to look like the scrapbook pages of Frankie Pratt, who has recently received the scrapbook, along with her father's old Corona typewriter, as a high school graduation gift in 1920. The reader follows Frankie's life from Vassar College, to NYC and her first love to Paris via a transatlantic voyage on the Lusitania. All gorgeously illustrated with actual ticket stubs, advertisements, newspaper clippings, corsages and other tidbits that any young woman would paste into a scrapbook. Accompanying each page are typed passages that relate Frankie's adventures. The story itself is fairly simple, but the presentation is unique, charming and sumptuous. It was a delight to turn each page and discover all it's little gems. As a side note, the author has been collecting vintage scrapbooks since she was a teenager and used items from her own collection to create this utterly captivating book. A feast for the eyes. 4 out of 5 stars. I really like it.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about the lives of 4 slave women who travel north every summer with their male masters to a resort in Ohio. Here they spend their summers as their masters' mistresses. The juxtaposition of these slave women to the black servants at the resort and the free blacks living in the town is jarring and eye opening. The varying nature of the relationships between the different women and their masters is also fascinating and at times surprising. As is the differing ways these men view and relate to these slave women. Truly a side of slavery I did not know much about. A great book for those who love history. 3.5 out of 5 stars. I (more than) liked it.

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