In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

I met Sarah Ward years ago at her wonderful crime fiction blog Crimepieces, and we have become good friends ever since. Last May I had the pleasure of meeting her in the flesh at CrimeFest, and this fall I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of her debut novel In Bitter Chill. Best part? It was signed!

Sarah Ward's in Bitter Chill

In Bitter Chill tells the story of Rachel and Sophie two children from Derbyshire who get kidnapped one morning on their way to school in 1978. Flash forward to the present, and we find Rachel was actually released, while Sophie has never been found. Their cold case is open again when Sophie’s mom is found dead at a local hotel, and DI Francis Sadler and DC Connie Childs start revising the 1970’s investigation.

I finished In Bitter Chill almost a month ago, and right now I am getting the same feeling thinking about this review as I did while I was reading it. Ward’s debut novel is the perfect mix of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series and Kate Morton’s family secrets. The investigating team very much resembles the best aspects of French’s Maddox and Ryan, although I have to admit I prefer Childs and Sadler. However, I thought that if there was a good way to start this review it was comparing Ward to two successful, established female writers, a category I have no doubt, she will find herself at very soon.

The merging of past and present crimes can either make for the perfect narrative or be so confusing that you end up losing interest. In Bitter Chill achieves the perfect mix of past and present so as to remind us that we are never free of the past, but should do not dwell on it. In the case of Rachel, she is still haunted by unanswered questions from her child self: Why was she released? Where is Sophie? Whose fault was it? However, her job as a family historian fits perfectly this narrative and her research, and the chapters where she is given a voice will appeal to fans of Morton’s plots about family secrets.

As for the investigating team, I do hope to hear from DI Sadler and DC Childs soon. While reading I thought it was probably Ward’s intention to create a series with these two opposed, yet complementary main characters. I have to admit I would not have been so drawn to the story had not been for work-addicted, clever, and fashionable DC Connie Childs. I also appreciated the glimpses we are given of their private lives and, especially, one feminist detail about Childs’ past. I had no doubt Ward was a feminist before, but In Bitter Chill is the ultimate proof of her mastery of feminism and crime fiction.

So, I would recommend In Bitter Chill to anyone who is looking for a good crime novel, with interesting and complex characters. However, I would also like to suggest this novel to anyone interested in family history/stories. The descriptions of corpses and the morgue are minimum, and Ward makes the crime about the people rather than the procedure or the forensic science.

October Book Haul

Hi, everyone! It’s been a long time since I posted anything, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t bought any books – far from it! So, here are the recent additions to my already overpopulated shelves:

Borrowed from the library:

Shirley Jackson by the Library of America (LOA).I had planned on reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle for Halloween, but I didn’t. Because I don’t like reading plans except for my PhD (for which I cannot function but by setting weekly deadlines). However, I finished Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith last night and I’ve been listening to a Literary Disco podcast on Jackson, as recommended by Shannon, and I believe it’s time for me to read Shirley Jackson for once and for all.

Borrowed from Library - October 2015

For review:

I hauled a lot of books for review this November because the 10 books that I requested – and was sent – from publishers last December never made it to me. 10 books! I guess there is a well-read mail-person in Britain. So, this year I will no be accepting or requesting any books until January, and I obviously had to make up for it:

For Review - October 2015

  • American Housewife by Helen Ellis reminded me so much of Sarah Weinman’s Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives that I had to request a review copy. It helped that my lovely friend Elizabeth Preston is on charge of this jewel.
  • Antihero by Fiona Peters and Rebecca Stewart is an academic book, a study on the archetypes of anti-hero in crime fiction.
  • Detective by Forshaw is a study of four contemporary detectives and their relevance in nowadays’ fiction.
  • After You Die by Eva Dolan is the next installment in her series. I love Dolan’s novels because there is a strong social criticism behind the crime narrative. As it should be.
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton comes from the same publisher as Paula Daly. Needless to say, I had to have this one.
  • Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith is the third on the Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott series, one of my favourites. I finished it last night and I think it’s the best one until now.
  • Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell is the latest in the Kay Scarpetta series, and although I’m way behind the series, I was very glad to be offered this gorgeous hardback and golden copy.


Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. After quite a terrible week last month I decided to go book shopping to my local library and fell in love with this light paperback copy of yet another Atwood’s classic. LIke with Kate Morton’s novels, I always like to have one of her works on my TBR pile, just in case I want some high quality, feminist fiction.

Margaret Atwood's Cat Eye

Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

I have a really good friend called Abel, who is also a huge crime fiction fan and whose book recommendations I keep ignoring, systematically. But he puts up with it because I assure him I will eventually read the book he just shouted at me over Facebook I need to read as soon as possible. One of his recommendations was Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane at least 5 years ago if I remember well. So, a few months ago I decided to buy it, second-hand at Abebooks. Now I have read it, and finished it, and I will publically say it: Abel, you were right. It was my kind of book.

Review of Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

Gone, Baby, Gone is the fifth installment in the Kenzie and Genaro series by Dennis Lehane. If you have not heard about them, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Genaro are two private eyes in the most hard-boiled, traditional, and American way you can imagine, and they are amazing. If you want to do this right, as I should have, go and check the order of the books here before keeping on reading my review. Have decided to keep on reading? Fine. Then I have to tell you that Gone, Baby, Gone tells the story of the disappearance of six-year old Amanda McCready from her bedroom in Boston. No traces. No signs of struggle. Her mother? Watching TV with her best friend in the apartment next door. And the city of Boston is desperate to find little Amanda. When her uncle and aunt doubt the Boston’s Police Department’s ability to find the kid, they visit Kenzie and Genaro, who, after much talking, join the investigation as private, independent investigators.

If you were in Europe in the 2000’s Gone, Baby, Gone will probably ring a bell and bring up the summer of 2007, when four-year old Madeleine McCann vanished from her hotel room in Portugal. But, despite the similarities, life imitates art: Lehane’s novel came out in 1998, and the award-winning film adaptation by Ben Affleck was released in 2007. In both cases the premise is just perfect: a young kid vanishes without a trace, leaving her parents bereft and the whole country wondering ‘Where is she?’. Only, this time you will get into the story thanks to Patrick Kenzie’s first person narration, which, along with his close relationship to Boston PD shows the reader the official and private eye take on the search for Amanda.

The first thing you need to know is that I am not really a fan of American hard-boiled crime fiction, or I thought I was not. If my reading of Gone, Baby, Gone is representative of my tastes, then I am a fan, because I could not put the book down. I started this novel while I was reading The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood, but the book was so heavy, being a hardcover, that I needed something lighter to carry on my handbag. That is when I remembered by battered, second-hand paperback copy of Gone, Baby, Gone and when I made one of the best reading decisions in my life. The novel is definitely a page-turner, with an impeccable rhythm, and an even distribution of the detecting narration.

The second thing you need to know is that I loved Gone, Baby, Gone because of the many questions that it posts to the reader. Who is a good mother and who is not? Who gets to decide? When are children safe and when are they not nowadays? Furthermore, who allows us to ask this questions? Lehane makes a great effort to show the reading audience the many different points of view that can arise from such a complex and terrific situation as the disappearance of a child, even though the first-person narration makes legitimate and true Kenzie’s point of view. This is the part of the book I had trouble with. This, and the ending. The only two things that stopped me from giving the novel a five-star review at Goodreads.

So, I would recommend Gone, Baby, Gone to anyone looking for a good thriller, even though I feel obliged to post a disclaimer here that the novel has more than enough good reasons to be called ‘hard-boiled, modern noir’, and there are some crude scenes including extreme violence and detailed descriptions of corpses that will only be fit for the bravest contemporary crime fiction fans.

Halloween Reading: Ten Crime Fiction Books To Read In One Weekend

Halloween is approaching and we are all looking for the spooky read of the year. Or at least I am. Although, now that I think about it, I very much spend all year between spooky readings. Because there is only one thing better than spending an evening reading, and that is spending a whole weekend reading something that will haunt you for life (or a few days).


So, just in time for the scariest night of the year, I am making a list of books that I have thoroughly enjoyed and read in one or two sittings. But I am giving these 10 Halloween readings my personal touch and I am listing here crime books that I adore, and have something uncanny going on. There are backlisters, new releases, and classics because although I am passionate about new releases, I think it is always a pleasure to visit your local library and borrow some books. So, if you are not going out, or if you are looking for something quick and scary, here you have  10 books you on the edge of your seat:

1. The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly (New Release)

Review of Paula Daly's The Mistake I made

What happens when your only way out is your worst nightmare? Daly’s latest novel dwells on the effects of the economic crisis on a single mother whose work as a physiotherapist takes a dark turn, for the worse.

Perfect if you enjoy: contemporary crime fiction, cosy readings, domestic noir.

Stay away if: you need thrill and action.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Backlister)


I was tempted to label this a classic, but let’s wait a few years. What happens when your wife goes missing in your native hometown and you have no idea where she is? If you haven’t read this yet. Please do.

Perfect if you enjoy: contemporary crime fiction, twists and turns.

Stay away if: you need a clear divide between good and bad.

3. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (New Release)

Luckiest Girl Alive

Probably the best debut novel I have read in 2015. Luckiest Girl Alive is actually how the main character is labelled in the novel. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but turn on the news and see your worst nightmare buried under all of NYC’s glamour.

Perfect if you enjoy: contemporary crime fiction, fashion, and Gone Girl.

Stay away if: you are not a fan of Gone Girl.

4. Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell (Classic)


The first in the Kay Scarpetta series. A ruthless killer is attacking Richmond’s young, middle-class professional women in their own houses. At night. Turn on the lights when reading this, and check all the windows and doors.

Perfect if you enjoy: CSI, Bones and anything that takes place in a laboratory or hospital.

Stay away if: the sight of blood, autopsies and medicine disgust you.

5. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (Backlister)

OnlyEverYours Review

A dystopian YA novel about the obsession we have with beauty and our bodies taken to an extreme. The fright comes from the realisation that your own thoughts about your own body on a daily basis actually coincide with the novel’s discourse.

Perfect if you enjoy: feminist sci-fi.

Stay away if: you don’t like YA or stories that take place in high schools.

6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Classic)


I never got to review this. No actual need. The classiest read for a dark, stormy night and a must read for dog lovers.

Perfect if you enjoy: classic crime fiction, the English moors, dogs, and Sherlock!

Stay away if: you don’t like Sherlock Holmes.

7. Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane (Classic)

Gone, Baby Gone

It took me almost five years to convince myself that I had to read this, and when I did, I couldn’t put it down. Perfect for fans of the American hard-boiled tradition.

Perfect if you enjoy: hard-boiled crime fiction, mainstream crime films.

Stay away if: you don’t like guns, shootings, and the use of strong language.

8. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (Classic)


Before I read this, I thought I knew who Rebecca was. Turns out I didn’t, but I couldn’t be happier. DuMaurier’s most famous work is as good as you’ve heard. I promise.

Perfect if you enjoy: cosy, classic, psychological crime fiction.

Stay away if: you need things to happen in a modern kind of way.

9. The Murder of Roger Acrkoyd by Agatha Christie (Classic)


Yet another classic that took me too long to read. This is a game-changer in contemporary crime fiction: can you imagine Poirot being your neighbour? The main character in this book has that pleasure!

Perfect if you enjoy: classic crime fiction, Golden Age, English country houses mysteries.

Stay away if: you need, again, a thrilling rhythm or something more modern.

10. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Classic)


THE Halloween reading. Children. An English mansion. A governess. This is it.

Perfect if you enjoy: classic, psychological crime fiction with a little twist that will give you goosebumps, not like horror films do.

Stay away if: you want something thrilling and do not wish to pay close attention to the narration and subtext.

Why Patricia Cornwell is One of the Best Crime Fiction Writers (And Why You Should Be Reading Her Works)

‘Hi! My name is Elena and I’m writing a Humanities doctoral thesis. On Contemporary Literature. On crime fiction. On Patricia Cornwell’s books’. That is how much it takes me these days to get a look of embarrassment from many people, although luckily not my beloved ones. Not only am I pursuing a PhD in Humanities, which apparently is not nearly as important as my expected Medicine career (on which acquaintances gave up a long time ago), but I am also studying bad literature. Airport literature. Beach readings. Pop-corn crime fiction. Best-sellers. You name it. I have chosen the wrong path. Or so they say. Because, how can you build your career on Patricia Cornwell’s books?

Patricia Cornwell

Well, let’s start with the beginning. Patricia Cornwell has been a constant presence in my life for 3 years now. We are still getting to know each other but more importantly, I am getting to know Dr. Kay Scarpetta. If you have wandered a bit around this blog, you may have found my reviews of the Scarpetta series (and if not, click here). The blonde, blue-eyed Florida forensic doctor is my go-to when I am stressed or overworked (or both, which happens quite usually). She knows how it feels to sleep 5 hours a day. She knows how it feels to have to fight your way to your goals, because they are your goals and your passions – and damn! – you never ever give up. She knows sleep deprivation can be fought with good coffee and carbohydrates. In short, she knows me better than many people and she makes me feel I’m not alone. And I have to thank Patricia Cornwell for this.

I am completely aware – current sleep deprivation and all – that I have just told you a fictional character from 1990 knows me better than many people. I may even admit to prefer her company to real life human beings many times. But it’s OK. As years go by I have learned to go with whatever works to make it, and forensic crime fiction has proved infallible on this. However, I have to admit it did not feel right at the beginning. Many times it meant hearing a deep voice – which also happened to be male and middle-aged – telling me those books were not enough. That kind of literature was not supposed to appeal to me, the A-student, the feminist, the voracious reader, the PhD candidate. I should be reading good literature, the classics, complex contemporary authors who openly wrote about depression, politics, gender issues, and so on, and so forth. But I am now safe. I have now shoot down that voice and put it into one of Scarpetta’s fridges so it (he?) can think about what he tried to do to me: he almost robbed me of my passion and my thesis.

As a post-graduate, Humanities student you are taught that there is literature you study, and literature you read in your free time. One is good, another one is bad. I’ll let you guess which one is each. Easy peasy. However, I have been lucky enough to be a Cultural Studies and Contemporary Literature student as well. And I have been under one of my current PhD Supervisors’s care for 6 years now, a wise woman we’ll call “M” and who helped me realise that enjoying crime fiction was fine. More than fine, she told me I had it in me to do research on it. I had it on me to deliver papers on it. Even in the UK. I could even write a thesis on it. And that’s what I’m currently doing: I am the proud writer of a thesis on Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series. And I couldn’t be happier.

So, let’s face it. Let’s dissect it: Why do people disregard Patricia Cornwell’s writings? Why is Kay Scarpetta such a controversial character? Well, I am sorry to tell you, you will have to read my thesis to find critical, theorised answers to those questions. Meanwhile, I will go with what I have been told or what I have read during my research in a more conversational tone:

1)    Crime fiction is not serious literature – I beg the question, what is good literature? Who gets to say so? Why? In which languages is the so-called serious literature written? Time to think about it.

2)    Popular literature is not good. Period – As cultural studies have proven, popular literature is actually the way in which changes are more rapidly inscribed in literature, then read, then thought about, then discussed, then written about more.

3)    Forensic literature and TV shows are not realistic – Maybe, maybe not. I truly believe were they to be realistic, they would find a very specific audience: those forensic scientists who cannot get away from their work at home. Plus, all kinds of narrations are not realistic by definition because they imply the narrator’s one and only point of view. Then, they imply a take on reality, which is even more interesting than based-on-facts narrations.

4)    It reads quickly, it’s a guilty pleasure – If it reads quickly, then we should praise the author’s ability to make you drop out of your real life to go and live in Scarpetta’s world some time every day. As for the guilty pleasure. Why does pleasure have to be associated with guilt? I mean, why? Just enjoy it! (And yes, this applies to cake and chocolate as well, but I don’t think this is the space to write about my Cookie Monster addiction to sweets). Crime fiction has been historically associated with guilt because of the supposed moral corruption that came from reading these novels. I can assure you, we’re not depraved hearts reading crime fiction.

By now, you should have been convinced of the importance of Patricia Cornwell as a crime fiction writer. I would even add, as a feminist, crime fiction woman writer in American literature. However, if my almost bouncing out of your screen through this post is not enough, maybe I should mention that Patricia Cornwell is widely regarded as the founder of forensic crime fiction. CSI, Bones, and all the other forensic novels that we enjoy would not be there were it not for Cornwell’s convincement that Postmortem, the first instalment in the Kay Scarpetta series, was a good novel and deserved to be published.

Finally, I think it is important to stress the importance of the Kay Scarpetta series for crime fiction. I was born in 1989, so DNA profiling is something I grew up hearing and knowing about. So were mobile telephones and GPS. I just always knew about them, they were always there. Can you imagine solving a crime without them? Now, many people will say ‘Of course, haven’t you read Sherlock Holmes or Wilkie Collins?’. But, can you imagine solving a crime in the late 20th century without technology and medicine? Funnily enough, Scarpetta introduces DNA profiling as an expensive and innovative possibility in Postmortem, when blood type is not enough to track down a serial killer who is targeting Richmond’s young, professional, middle-class women.

And that is just another beauty of the Scarpetta series: women are present, and women are given a voice, even though many times that voice has to be filtered through Scarpetta (because the women are dead, and only she can read them). I have now read enough academic texts to do some subtext reading on the novels, and although I do not wholeheartedly agree with Cornwell’s supposed conservative discourse, I will still give her the benefit of having introduced specific themes and characters to contemporary crime fiction.

Before your roll your eyes at my fangirling, let me be clear: I am not saying that Patricia Cornwell’s novels are perfect, far from it. But they stand for a moment in literary history when women changed the rules in crime fiction. For the first time, there was a Chief Medical Examiner who was a woman, who happened to be beautiful (why not?), and who was the best at her job. And she didn’t care. She didn’t care most men she worked with thought she did not deserve to be there. She stood her ground, and pulled rank if necessary. She broke away with traditional gender roles that would locate her at home, or worried about her family, and became a middle-aged woman who had just gone through a divorce, who had an amazing job she loved, and money enough to buy a new Mercedes if her current one broke down. In short, Cornwell gave readers – through Scarpetta’s life – the possibility to challenge who they were told to be by society and become instead whoever they wanted to be. Guiltless. Fearless. And proudly. At least while they spent time in Scarpetta’s world.

So, if Cornwell is still not your cup of tea, I get it because forensic crime fiction is not for everyone. But, with this post I wanted to put down some reasons why her work and her Dr. Kay Scarpetta series are game changers in contemporary crime fiction and feminism. And, next time you are tired, overworked, sleep deprived or dismissed because you happen to be a woman (if you are), at least you know now there is someone out there who has gone through the same and has come out triumphant of it. And although I’d love to say it’s me, I would like to officially introduce you to my friend Kay, Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia. I think you will get along like a house on fire.

The latest Kay Scarpetta novel, Depraved Heart, is out now:

Depraved Heart

This post is part of the official Depraved Heart Tour. Did you enjoy it? Check more Patricia Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta posts:

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The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

Both Anna James and Elizabeth Preston gushed about Benjamin Wood’s second novel, The Ecliptic over Twitter this summer. So, I asked Elizabeth for a review copy, and she kindly sent me one as soon as possible – thank you!

Review: The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

The first thing that caught my attention was that Benjamin Wood is a young British writer that I had not heard about. I am always interested in finding new, fresh voices in fiction, and I did not hesitate once to read his second novel. I was also interested in broadening my reading, because while some people read too many men authors, I tend to read mainly feminist women writers.

The Ecliptic is divided into four parts, each of them focusing on a different chapter in the main character’s life: a young British painter who has secluded herself at an exclusive retreat in the Mediterranean. When I found out about the plot, the book reminded me of The Magus by John Fowles, I novel I had to study. A novel I struggled a lot with, and a novel I have never truly finished reading. The Ecliptic may take some inspiration from Fowles’ most influential novel, but it is a work of art on its own.

Art, the artistic process, and how creativity and creation influence our lives are the main themes in the novel, and, the main character’s re-telling of her late teens, and early 20’s really struck a chord with me, even though I am not a painter myself. Sitting down to write, every day, to produce THE work of your life – like many people insist your PhD is – is a joyous, difficult path to take. However, I had a huge problems with the book, and here are some quotes to give you an idea about why:

“But not woman can improve her station in life without sacrificing a little of her identity.”

“I found these books [Middlemarch and Austen’s works] worthwhile and interesting, but perhaps not quite as formative as I expected […] The painter in me was drawn to other voices: to Melville’s artfulness and detail, to Conrad’s gloomy landscapes.”

“How I missed being Jim’s assistant.”

See where this is headed? Narrator and artist Elspeth Conroy is one great artist, but she struggles with her own identity, the lack of female role models, and even tries to subject herself to the role of a mediocre artist’ assistant. I hoped the narration would get better, I hoped Ellie found her own path, and proudly stated she is an artist, she is good, and she deserves the time, and space to create. But, instead, she is not able to deal with her need to create, and her artistic self. She struggles, even verging on mental health issues, and while this is a great topic – and we do not need super women in every book – it raises some questions about the unsuitability of the creative life for women, an idea that has stopped women from becoming artists for centuries.

So, although The Ecliptic offers an interesting perspective on the creative life, it fails terribly at women’s representation.

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

I borrowed The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf from the school library last June, because I realised that it is one of those landmarks in feminist theory that I still had to read.

Review: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

During my degree, I had one of my now PhD supervisors talk about “The Third Shift” for women, and the idea stayed with me for a long time. Basically, Wolf establishes three working shifts for women: their job, domestic duties, and beauty routines/rituals. The three are compulsory for women in Western, affluent cultures, and they contribute to the sense of guilt and feeling dissatisfied with their (our!) lives. We never work enough, we never have a house clean enough, and we never do enough for ourselves.

I have to admit, that I did not enjoy The Beauty Myth as much as I thought I would. At some points, I felt Wolf was just transcribing beauty companies’ slogans and throwing figures and numbers at the readers. However, I really enjoyed the analysis she did on the evolution of the so-called “beauty rituals”. Women use cosmetic products, we have historically used them, and as Wolf herself makes clear, there is nothing wrong with it. But, one has to be aware of the discourse and the subtext behind the marketing of these products, being the equation of beauty with health, the most important. I had never thought of it, but many creams and beauty treatments are marketed as a need for women to be healthy, and if we do not buy them, if we do not buy into the idea that we have something to fix in ourselves, then we are left feeling guilty.

Ritual example

One of the many ‘beauty rituals’ for women that can be found online. Source: Google Images

And when and where did these rituals begin? When Western women started to get out of their houses after World War II. When we were, finally, given the right to vote. When we joined the job market in mass, and patriarchal men saw the status quo threatened. This is also the time when unreachable beauty ideals emerged. Wolf makes a great point highlighting how working women in affluent societies wish to emulate and have the bodies of the 450 American professional models (in 1991), an idea that gave me some food for thought: Why do we – because we all do, at some points in our lives – feel the pressure to have the body of a professional model, when we are students/professors/doctors/lawyers, etc?

Gisele Bundchen and the models at the Victoria Secret Show

Gisele Bundchen and some models at the Victoria Secret Show

Wolf also explores how this beauty myth, constructed to keep the status quo, is not something men in themselves want. Women are made to believe that all men want a supermodel, that to be desirable in a heterosexual, normative relationship, you need to look like Gisele Bundchen. But, reality is far from it. It is the patriarchal establishment at its best, making women passive by creating the need to starve themselves, and follow tiring and unfruitful beauty routines to feel beautiful, which has produced a couple of generations of tired, underweight, passive women, the same way Victorian female standards produced sick, frail women:

“What the modern Surgical Age is doing to women is an overt reenactment of what nineteenth-century medicine did to make well women sick and active women passive”.

So, yes. I am glad that I finally read The Beauty Myth, and I think that it is a must read for anyone doing Feminist Studies, especially focusing on the body. It is also a necessary read for anyone who feels a part of herself is being held hostage, because we have the right to feel good about ourselves, our minds, our bodies, and the life that we are constantly building.

“[W]e have to separate from the myth what it has surrounded and held hostage: female sexuality, bonding among women, visual enjoyment, sexual pleasure in fabrics and colors– female fun, clean and dirty.