It’s almost July, and I think this would be the best book of the year for me.
This could be finished in one setting, but I let life get in the way. However, there were times where I did it on purpose because it’s so engaging that I didn’t want this read to end so quickly.
As someone who has minimal to near zero understanding of the world of performance arts, I was skeptical at first. I assumed, that I wouldn’t be able to ‘get’ this book. But I was so wrong. It’s written in a way that could capture your heart and soul. That would draw you into the world of performance arts without you realizing it – that you’ve learned a little of their world.
I might be able to finish it soon, real soon, but I’m refusing to. I really want to savor every remaining bit of the stories, the pages.
I took quite a while to finish this book as the author went in really deep on this (he’s most certainly not the first to write about the girls, hence he had a lot of referencing to do). I can’t recall whether he wasn’t born yet or whether he was a toddler when the murder took place, but the author hails from New Zealand and is a lawyer who was (is?) based in Hong Kong when he began writing this book. It was mentioned somewhere in the foreword.
The author made a lot of references to the girls’ diaries, often citing old movies and literature which were favored by the girls. Bear in mind all these were in the early 1950s, so even if you’re familiar with WW2, it’s not enough. The references to WW2, the cold, bitter weather, South Africa, the state the families were in (post-war), probably took up less than 5% of the book. I say this because I am (indefinitely) not into classic literatures, thrillers, plays… Well, generally the sort of things that were heavily described throughout the book.
I didn’t have much difficulty reading the book, the prose wasn’t ‘old English’, but I did bump into dry bits where I couldn’t relate to at all, as the girls were really into fiction and imaginary characters plus stuff people who enjoy Romeo and Juliet might be able to connect with.
Other facts were okay and informative, such as mental illness in the 1950s, the court battles, family predicaments. The best takeaway, for me, were within the last few chapters, where the author attempted to analyze how the girls were raised by their mothers – the abandonment, the resentment, the shortcomings between mother and daughter relationships etc. I did highlight a few passages. It made me cringe, as I myself, am a mother…
Would I recommend this book to anyone? I don’t know. None of my close friends who are bookworms are into true crime nor would they give a **** about these two murderesses. Don’t think they’ll bat an eyelid with Leopold and Loeb neither.
I gave 5 shining stars on Goodreads. Everything in the name of effort and details.
p.s. It seems that I didn’t write about the girls, the murder… What is there to write?
The author didn’t quite address how he felt – When the revolution was happening, when Qaddafi/Gaddafi was captured, tortured. There’s almost nothing on that, so in case you were hoping for a wee bit on that, don’t.
The book is literally what it presents itself to be – The author’s search and yearning for his father, who was betrayed by the Egyptian SS, imprisoned by the dictator, and of course, disappeared by the regime.
The body of the author’s father was never found. He never met anyone specifically who could give him a straight answer, or closure, on what happened to his late father.
There were dry facts in between the pages, which is beyond necessary for those who are not familiar with the regime’s history.
There’s also no talk of the country post-Qaddafi. Like I said, it’s about him, his father, and the regime in between – and Egypt is part of the narrative as well.
If you are looking for a dose on the revolution and other issues which were not addressed in The Return, I think you should consider “Sandstorm”, written by Lindsey Hilsum. I’m currently reading that book, so hopefully I’ll get to learn more about Libya then.
While reading this – I kept thinking – Wow. These evil nurses and doctors are worse than Guantanamo, Nazis and Mengele, Russian gulags, Iran-Iraq, DPRK and Chinese prison camps combined.
Why so, if you may ask? But before I go there… First, this was published in 1886. Also, you should read about Nellie Bly – She pioneered what we call today, “investigative journalism”. And her time is before Martha Gellhorn, before John Hersey.
So – why are these people more evil than the ones who came after them? Because… they were supposed to be caring for the mentally ill? Well. What do I know.