So when I was a little girl (Note: not that long ago, remember, I am very, very young) my mom used to recite this poem to me, and I am way too lazy to google but am pretty sure it is a real poem by a poet, and this is what I remember:
There once was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was
bad she was horrid.
And I was both baffled and horrified, but also intrigued and curious about this poem. Apparently as a very young baby person I had a curl on the top of my head, which was, all the hair I had, tied with a ribbon or shaped into a curl. I have no curl to my hair, have always been envious of those who do.
So I remember thinking, is this about me (baby narcissist, surely)? What stuff is the good? Am I also horrid?
Horrid is the worst word, in the best sense of the word, meaning it is so clearly, definitely, stingingly saying "awful, terrible, shameful, gross, wicked" in one tidy, Austenian word.
By the time I was old enough to process this poem (and am going to google it later as am now curious) I had not a curl to my head, nor an idea of what good and/or horrid things myself or poem girl were up to.
So this is long leadup (shock!!!) to a book I just read, by an author I usually like but do not LOVE LOVE, but do like and will read, book is And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman.
Observe curl on forehead of book cover. And though I am normally all-Kindle, all the time, which saves me from roaming around bookstores buying books based on appreciation for covers, my Kindle had a little revolt (we've worked it out) so I went to bookstore, and like magpie to shiny things, am drawn to this book, this cover
(Note: am also drawn to shiny things, in case anyone wants to send me something shiny, gold star if it is lovely stone in nice setting).
And have read Laura Lippman before, as I have a self-proscribed law of reading X amount of one genre, then the next, then the next (unless I get on a real castle-English people-poor Lady Jane Grey thing) and so on, so I am not repeatedly reading the same thing until I turn to mush. I turn to mush for other reasons.
So twisty crime-y character based type books fit into my List Of How I Read Stuff When, and this book, with this poem reference reminding me of that poem that so plagued and intrigued me in childhood, had to be purchased.
Quickly, it is gulpable.
And I fear that having been published on the heels of Gone Girl, which I have written about, as has every other person on the universe who read it as it is AWESOME and do read it before someone ruins it for you, is not going to get as much traction as it should.
Because it is super interesting, kind of a both windy and straight shot at the same time if that makes any sense story of a girl led into prostitution, to the dregs of society, then making a climb out of it into being a proper suburban mom in SUV, who is also prostitute and madam.
Heloise, the main character, is fascinating to me, she is an enigma, flinty, warm at times but ruthless at others, missing parts of herself, but trying to fit her bizarre and not-socially acceptable life into an exemplary acceptable life. That intrigued me.
And the plot moves along at a rapid pace. Some things are predictable, some things are a surprise and some things are a vivid entrance into a fun-house type view of the carpool mom.
Parts are tragic, parts are funny, parts are rote crime book not doing it for me, parts are sharp and cutting.
Plus, the title. I don't think I will ever forget that poem, and the concepts of good and evil (or horrid) that it envokes.
So, I say, read away. After you've read Gone Girl, Dare Me, Fault in Our Stars, and listened to all the bands, or at least some of them, that I am giving gold star. Because it is a gripping, engaging, maybe not best thing ever but certainly certainly better than 99 percent of what is out there in this genre.