Although I had already been in line at the library for Emma Flint's new novel, Little Deaths, it was Sarah Weinman's recent interview with the author that made me go directly to the Book Depository and order a copy of my own. (I could get a paperback copy from the UK, you see). It finally came in the mail this weekend and of course I had to crack it open and start reading!
In case you are curious about the novel, you can read that Q&A to learn a little more about the story. Sarah Weinman also wrote an article for Hazlitt about the Alice Crimmins case back in 2015. So, yes, the novel is based on the true crime story--an unsolved murder of two children--in New York in 1965 for which their mother was accused. I haven't read Weinman's article (yet, anyway) as I don't want to know too much about the crime as Flint's book is a fictionalized telling of the story. Weinman piqued my curiosity, however.
"It [Flint's book] is, just like the real-life case, a story I cannot get out of my head. Ruth Malone, Flint's fictionalized version, is a woman of great contradictions and fierce independence. She won't apologize and won't explain her life, and in mid-1960s New York, that's perhaps a greater crime than whether she killed her children."
Little Deaths is a much anticipated novel this year and I am wondering how Flint will handle the story--if it will be hinted at whether Ruth will be found culpable or not for the crime. Or is she a victim of circumstance. The blurb reads in part that this is a "gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all."
In light of Weinman's interview with the author and what very little I know about Ruth/Alice--how she always wanted to present to the world a perfectly made up face, I thought this teaser would be appropriate:
"Each morning she smeared on foundation with fingers that trembled depending on how much the view in the mirror had upset her, or on what kind of a night she'd dad. There were days when her hands were shaking and sweating so that her makeup was patchy, or when her skin was so marked that two layers of foundation seemed to make little difference. On those days, she slapped her face as she applied it. Punishing. She watched her eyes in the mirror as she did it. Hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to make a mark."
"Then the powder, patted into the familiar mask. She pursed her lips, stroked blush into the hallows made beneath her cheekbones, squinted until the face in the mirror became a blurred oval, and she took up her pencil, focused. The eyebrows first: high, surprised arches framing her long eyes. Shadow, liquid liner, three coats of mascara. She worked like an artist: blending, smudging, deepening colors. A final dusting of powder; a coat of lipstick, blotted; a comb through her hair, teasing it taller; a silver spiral of hairspray. And it was done. For the first time that day, she could look at her face as a whole."
"She was Ruth then."
I think Ruth is going to be an interesting character. Maybe when I finish the novel I will read about the actual Alice Crimmins. Or maybe I will just let the story stand on its own. If the first few pages of the story are anything to go by, this is going to be a very quick read. By the way, the top left illustration is for the US edition and the bottom right is the UK edition. Any preferences of one over the other. I think I like the UK edition just a tad bit more.