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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review : The Lie by Fredrica Wagman

Title : The Lie : A Novel
Author : Fredrica Wagman
Publisher : Zoland Books
Genre : Contemporary
ISBN : 978-1-58642-157-1
Series : No
Rating : 4

From The Publisher :

Ramona Smollens has a chance meeting on a park bench with an older man, Solomon Columbus. The two became lovers, and soon Ramona is leaving the home of her mother and recently deceased father for marriage and the trappings of adult life. She takes with her a dark family secret, the sort of secret one simply did not talk about, one that would stalk her as she matured into her role as wife and mother. Coming of age in 1950s America, Ramona gets her cues about a woman's role from the world around her, and about female sexuality from the silver screen. But when experience teaches her that Hollywood's ideal is in fact "the lie," truth and desire collide with a force that is deeply moving and unforgettable.

Review :

Romona Smollens has lived her whole life completely ignored. The day she meets Mr. Soloman Columbus is the first day she feels as though she is someone. He sits down beside her on a bench across from Belgravia Hotel. If not for his ten penis-like fingers, and the sadness that seems to emanate off of him, Romana isn't sure if she would have even noticed him. He is nothing special, except that he listens to her every word, and makes her feel as though she is the center of his world.

Shortly after their meeting Rsmona finds herself marrying Mr. Solomon Columbus, but why?, is it because she truly loves him or because he is infatuated with her as no one else has ever been. Ramona isn't sure, she's not even sure she knows what love is and what it should feel like. She just knows that he loves her, and she must do everything to keep him by her side, even if it means to Lie.

Every night Mr. Colombus rolls atop Ramona, and goes about 'making-love' to her. She's unsure what this could possibly mean, especially because she can't feel a thing down there, she's completely frozen. That doesn't mean he has to know about it though, and so she pretends she's having the time of her life, as though she were her beloved Rita Hayworth, the goddess of the flamenco and sex.

Her lies build up inside her, creating a sort of wall against the real world. She can't seem to tell the truth regardless of how hard she tries, and it makes it worse when she realizes that her husband may have someone else on the side. How could he do such a thing to her? How can he come home every night to her smelling of that woman, of her rich gardenia perfume! It becomes an obsession for Ramona, to find her husband's mistress, and make him stop the lies.

I wasn't sure if I would be interested in reading this book when the publisher contacted me to review it. I was skeptical, by solely looking at the cover! I know, it's horrible to read a book by it's cover alone, but I tend to do that more often than I should. Before I could tell myself no, I decided I needed to read a little about the book, and decide from it's description whether it would be something I would enjoy. The description alone caught my attention, and I decided I should give it a go.

I took this book with me to the bar to read it, yes, to the bar. I'm not a big drinker and so every Monday night I arrive at the bar with a book in hand just in case I go out in poker. Before I even sat down to play my Monday game, I started reading this book and had a hard time putting it down. I immedietly wanted to know what would happen to Ramona, and how her beloved Rita Hayworth would be portrayed in the book. That first night I read half of the book before poker even started, and was dissapointed when I had to put it down to even play the game in the first place.

I really enjoyed this book, and was surprised by the ending, although I'm not going to give anything away because I really believe that you should give this book a try. It's a story of a young girl running from her past, and trying to jump directly into adult life with no knowledge about it. Her past haunts her, and her future is what will suffer because of it.
-below is an article on Rita Hayworth, written by Fredrica Wagman, the author of The Lie. It was sent to me by the Publisher to add to my review.

"Finding Rita Hayworth"

My fascination with Rita Hayworth began when I was very young because my mother was so enthralled with Rita Hayworth herself that she named me Rita, and although she polished my name off with the name Fredrica in the middle, it was the name Rita that profoundly connected me to my mother -- to my childhood and to that exquisite creature who ruled the sliver screen for all my growing years.

People do things like that. Pick the name of presidents and movie stars whom they admire for their newborn babies, hoping, preposterously, that the name of the famous person they admire will evoke the same magic on some poor unsuspecting little child.

I use the word "poor" because the child in full innocence sallies forth into life burdened with a name and a namesake she knows nothing about. In this case, what glowed in my mother's esteem couldn't be denied -- Rita Hayworth was a goddess, worshiped by men and women alike. She was the quintessential pin-up girl of World War II. She was the epitome of glamour and elegance. One of her five husbands was a prince and the others were iconic movie stars themselves. She had everything -- she was gorgeous; she had astounding beauty. She had children and wealth and jewels and clothes and incredible fame so that all-in-all she was a living breathing testimonial of immensely enviable success. But that wasn't all she had. She also had a secret. Buried deep within her was the knowledge of a terrible tragedy, the effects of which she bore silently her whole life; she was the victim of severe abuse -- physical, emotional and sexual, vested on her by her father while her lackluster, impoverished mother turned a blind eye to the devastation that was her daughter's fate.

The research that went into writing The Lie, dealt extensively with understanding the lives and struggles of many famous movie stars, a fascinating subject itself -- what makes them, what drives them -- but I settled finally on Rita Hayworth, not only because our names are the same, and not only because my mother thought "she was the most exquisite thing that ever lived or breathed," but because her story was the most clear-cut and the most brutal.

She was born Margarita Consuelo, the granddaughter of a great and famous flamenco dancer, so great and so famous that he was part of the court of the King of Spain. His son, Rita Hayworth's father came to this country speaking no English and earning his meager living, paltry as it was, by giving dancing lessons with his young, exquisite daughter as his partner. Fred Astaire, speaking once of Rita Hayworth said she was the best partner he ever danced with, and that statement included all his partners -- even the remarkable Ginger Rodgers. In the days of prohibition, because this country was dry with no liquor being sold, Rita's father took his young, beautiful and extremely talented daughter to Mexico, frequenting cheap night clubs and filthy dance halls where the liquor was flowing so they could eek out a bit of money on which to live by dancing for "tips". Things were so bad at times that Rita was forced by her father to catch fish off of wooden piers, often kneeling for hours in order to catch them with her bare hands and if that day she caught nothing, her father would beat her within an inch of her life, all the while introducing her as his wife and using her sexually.

This is not an unusual story. Neither for movies stars nor for the vast throngs who watch them. It is a common secret tragedy for men as well as for women, and as fascinated as I am with what makes movie stars tick -- their stories and struggles, I am even more concerned with the subject of childhood sexual abuse -- how to bring it out of the darkness and into the light for the millions of people like Rita Hayworth who have been so deeply scarred.

©2009 Fredrica Wagman, author of The Lie: A Novel

Author Bio

Fredrica Wagman, author of The Lie: A Novel, is the author of six novels, such as Playing House, His Secret Little Wife, Mrs. Hornstein, Peachy, Magic Man, Magic Man and her latest The Lie. She has four grown children and lives with her husband in New York City.

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