sethrak: (Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan)
[personal profile] sethrak
Like I said in my last post, I recognized at a very early age that the way Gilbert treated Anne, and the way boys who allegedly torment girls to show they 'like' them, is utter bullshit, although I had no idea back then that this was a feminist way of thinking.

Another early influence?

Oddly enough, Reader's Digest Condensed Books from the 1950's that were lurking in my maternal grandmother's basement.

No, seriously.

Specifically, Jungle Girl, by John Moore, whose title I'd forgotten for years and years, merely remembered as 'that one book about the traveling carnival girl with the pet snakes', and whose author I'd never much paid attention to at all.

I think the earliest I read it was when I was a pre-teen, but could have been earlier - I was a very precocious reader.

For some reason, I've had those old books on my mind a lot lately, and this morning I finally decided to hit Wikipedia and see if I could find the titles of the ones I liked best, so I could try getting them from the library.

I expected to have to do a lot of trawling through lengthy lists - the books in my grandparents' basement alone were numerous, Readers' Digest sold a LOT of them over the decades, and I was unsure as to which decade (or possibly decades) their collection came from.

I hit jackpot pretty fast. Right on the main Wiki page, no need to trawl through the lists (yet) was the volume containing three of the ones I remembered best.

1959, Volume 37 - Spring

The Secret Project of Sigurd O'Leary - Martin Quigley
Dear and Glorious Physician - Taylor Caldwell
Collision Course - Alvin Moscow
Jungle Girl - John Moore
Epitaph for an Enemy - George Barr

Leonora (sp?) is the daughter of two carnival sideshow performers in the UK. Her late mother did an act with snakes; after her mother's death she inherited the act, but her father remarried and sunk into alcoholism. In exchange for a percentage of the profits, he passes on 'ownership' of her act and the money derived from it to the father of a young man who also does a sideshow, boxing against any locals who care to try a few rounds, and who has an 'understanding' of sorts with Leonora. (Lee is supposed to get a little pocket money, but this never quite materializes in the condensed version; a minor plot point is made of her asking and being stalled by the boyfriend's father.)

Sounds like a semi-typical patriarchal mid-50's happy little domestic arrangement, ne?

Except the bf's parents are in a hugely abusive relationship, and growing evidence suggests the bf will treat Lee the exact same way his father treats his mother once they're married. And flagrantly cheat on her just like his father as well. Not to mention the issue of Lee's pocket money. And the increasing pressure on her to dress more skimpily to attract more business. And the pressure to feed the poor snakes a little bit less and less as time goes on, since it cuts into the profit margin. And BF's work-related cranial injury, which he's afraid to tell anyone but Lee just how bad it really is.

Her situation increasingly worsens, but she's able eventually to get out with a somewhat conveniently timed white knight customer's assistance.

I remember vividly my outrage over the dicking around with her share of the money from her act (not that I could have remotely phrased ANY sentence with the term 'dicking around' back then, LMAO), and my worry over the increasing abuse, and incomprehension at BF's infidelity but continued presumption he'd marry Lee.... and it was just one of those books that resonates, you know.

Unfortunately, Amazon seems to think it's out of print. Going to try the library website next.

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July 2014

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