I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Doing so does not sway my review in any way.
Before I started reading this, I had in my mind the movie Lost and Delirious, about two girls at a boarding school and in love and one of the girls pretty much has a break down and the movie Heavenly Creatures, where two girls have an intense but destructive relationship. In some ways, these movies are a good accompaniment to this book. This book centers on a, at the time, perverse relationship between two girls and the murder of one by the other.
This book wasn't an easy read. The wording is of a more refined manner and there are instances were the reader has to read the cursive writing of the character. Unfortunately, much is lost in this because the font is too small for writing in this manner. I found myself skimming, knowing that I was probably missing a good deal, but also knowing there was no way I was going to go cross-eyed while trying to read everything.
The story is that of two girls, back in the late 1800s, who had quite the unusual relationship at the time. As the author points out in the Introduction, "few people had heard of same-sex love, and even fewer believed it was anything less than perverse. In another section the author points out that it would be another 120 years before same-sex marriage would even be legal in the state of Tennessee. So from that alone, you can get a gist of some of the book.
The other part of the book is about how the relationship is seen by others, how the murder trial is handled and the portrayal of the key witnesses and professional opinions. Personally, I think that Alice was truly in love with Freda, but in a stalker, abuser, scary way that only would lead up to one outcome if not deterred. How do I feel about Freda? I think she was a bisexual player who eventually figured out how out of hand things had gotten, but also took for granted the total scope of Alice's feelings. To me, this is not an outright love story gone wrong, this is a story about mental health issues in an era that just didn't know how to handle that, along with same-sex relationships. Am I saying there is a problem with same-sex relationships? Absolutely not, love is love. But I don't feel that what was going on between these two women was that.
The author set her facts in motion very well. She was able to create an interesting perspective into this story. She really dissected Alice, her family and her way of life. There were times that it felt like the story was going in circles though before coming reaching an outcome. The drawings were good, but didn't pull me into the story in the way they should have.
In the end, I feel sorry for both women. One who needed mental health intervention and one who thought she had finally broke off from the web she had weaved but ended up dead instead. Who would I recommend this to? Most likely anyone who is interested in historical murder stories.