Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Netgalley mini-reviews: The F Word and Lili DeJong

Olivia Morten seems to have a perfect life, but it is actually a carefully crafted facade. Olivia can spin anything, in her career as a publicist or in her personal life. When her crush from high school comes back into her life, her constructed life starts to fall apart. Olivia realizes that her friends are vapid, her husband is not invested in their marriage, and her beautiful, successful life is not making her happy. She finds herself reflecting on the girl she was in high school--she was fat and unpopular, but she knew who she was. Can she find that girl again?

I am a new Liza Palmer reader. I happened to read her book Girl Before a Mirror last year and really enjoyed it. But The F Word didn't work for me quite as well. Olivia is apparently a character in another of Palmer's books, which I haven't read. She might make more sense as a character if you have the whole picture. But within this book, Olivia is a tough character to follow. She has built up such a wall that it's difficult to get to know her. Maybe Olivia herself doesn't even know, and that's really apparent in her relationships with her husband Adam and Ben, the boy from high school. She has ignored Adam's infidelity for years and when things finally explode, she decides that she's done with that relationship. Instead, she focuses on Ben, who was cruel to her in high school. I wish we had more insight into Olivia and Ben in high school and their relationship then. It would have made their interactions in the present more significant. While this story wasn't my favorite, I can certainly see myself giving another Liza Palmer novel a try.

The F Word
By Liza Palmer
Flatiron Books April 2017
288 pages
Read via Netgalley

Lilli has big hopes for the future. Her brother and her fiance have gone to find good jobs and have promised to send for her when they are settled. But her life quickly takes a turn when she discovers she is pregnant. There is no way her father and new stepmother or Quaker community will support her, so Lilli finds sanctuary at the Philadelphia Haven for Women and Infants. After her daughter is born, she is expected to give her up and go back to her life. But Lilli quickly learns that she cannot part with her baby and decides to do whatever it takes to keep her child safe.

Lilli de Jong is told as a series of diary entries as Lilli details the love she shares with Johan, her hopes for the future, and her quick descent from an honorable woman to someone with no place to call home. In some ways, this book reminded me of Pamela, where we see seemingly the whole world act cruelly towards one young woman. But Benton does a wonderful job of showing just how impossible it was to be a single mother in the 19th century. It's sobering to think about how things have changed and how they still haven't; if you are a parent and have no one to care for your child, how can you work? If you can't work, how can you provide for a child? Through it all, Lilli remains steadfast and determined to keep the child she loves.

Lilli de Jong
By Janet Benton
Nan A. Talese May 2017
352 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. I've never read either of these authors, but both these books sound good. (And I'm a sucker for books told in diary form.) I'll have to see if my library has either of these. Thanks, Lindsey! :)

  2. I like the premise of The F Word; it's a shame it didn't work for you. Lilli de Jong sounds powerful and heartbreaking.

  3. Great reviews! I haven't read either of these books (or anything by this authors). It is definitely sobering to think about the ways things have changed since the 19th century and the ways they haven't. Our laws are terrible when it comes to ensuring equality for women in the workplace, despite being on the books for decades.

  4. Thank you for your review of my novel! By the way, I LOVED Pamela . . . read it as beach reading several years ago and found it captivating. Thinking one day to write a novel in letters, as Samuel Richardson did so long ago! Look forward to reading more of your revuews.

  5. Ooh, I'm excited to hear about these upcoming books! The F Word sounded good, but it seems like it was disappointing. I'd be excited to pick up Lillie de Jong though! I love learning about women in history, through both fiction and nonfiction :)