Monday, January 27, 2014

Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: a Review

I just finished Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, edited by Sarah Weinman. What a good read! This collection of mostly mid-century short stores by mostly (unfortunately) forgotten women writers included some tales that would still be disturbing now. Take for instance the first story, 'The Heroine', by Patricia Highsmith. Essentially it's about every parent's nightmare - the nanny who loves her work a little too much. Suffice it to say no nanny-cam would have stopped this woman from destroying a family. Likewise Celia Fremlin's 'A Case of Maximum Need,' which will make you wonder who you're really talking to on the Internet.

Weinman's collection introduces readers to some of the many female pulp writers who pioneered modern fiction. Think of every book or movie you've read or seen about stalker ex-husbands or sociopathic roommates. The genre that launched a thousand 'woman saves herself from peril' books and numerous Lifetime Movies started with stories like these.  While the collection isn't perfect (I thought Shirley Jackson's 'Louisa, Please Come Home' was a bit weak) all in all it's a great introduction to a genre that's often overlooked by male critics who discuss crime fiction and post-war writers through the 1970s.

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