Monday, March 24, 2014

Nonfiction | Bad Girls Have More Fun


“Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don’t have the time.”
—Tallulah Bankhead

This is the last nonfiction book I read, and I read it before our two months of travels. (Somehow, nonfiction just doesn’t sound so appealing to me as a vacation read; give me fluff or give me death!) My mom picked up Elizabeth Kerri Mahon’s Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women from the library back in January, and it was a great easy piece of nonfiction. I read it in just a couple of days, because it’s easy to digest with short, conclusive chapters.

Many of these scandalous women are ones about which you are probably familiar—Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Anne Boleyn, Zelda Fitzgerald. But then there are many that are probably unfamiliar but were still newsmakers of their times for going against the grain of society—women like Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of King Louis VII and also King Henry II, a woman that could easily keep up with the powerful men of her time in both politics and romantic philandering.

Other women we read about are “wayward wives,” “scintillating seductresses,” and “amorous artists,” among others. Mahon writes this book as a collection of brief and accessible biographies; you’re not getting the full story but just a quick summary that may pique your interest to read more. (And I did; Wikipedia was my friend while reading this book!)

If the above chapter heads are any indication, Mahon is a fan of cutesy language, which is sometimes pretty annoying. Starting a character biography with the phrase, “She was just a small-town girl, living in a small-town world…” to describe Joan of Arc’s beginnings is a pretty lame literary technique—not to mention I hate that song. But these aren’t things you can’t get past, and it’s still a fun and light piece of nonfiction that demonstrates history-makers are never the quiet ones.


Aarti said…

I have a feeling this one would feel a bit too frothy for me – more important to keep the light and lively tone rather than to provide real information about people?

I have a book that seems similar that Trisha recommended – Warrior Women, by Jeannine Davis-Kimball. Hoping it's great!

Kari said…

Haha yeah, it's definitely for your light-reader/library browser. I don't think any of the info was inaccurate, just not too in-depth (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!).