Sunday, December 20, 2015

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman Review

Title: Almost Famous Women
Author: Megan Mayhew Bergman
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Short Stories/Anthologies
Series: N/A
Star Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Stars

I was given a copy of this book through Netgalley by the publisher, Scribner, in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

Almost Famous Women is a short story collection about women who are the siblings of famous people, women on the fringes of history. Bergman writes thirteen short stories, all with beauty and finesse. Each story was an insight into the author's imagination, as well as these nuanced, complex and very fragile women. I'll pick my favorites and review them individually, since my rating for the entire book is at the top:

Norma Millay's Film Noir Period, 5 out of 5 stars: Dark and chilling, an insight to Edna St. Millay's younger sister, and her relationship with her. I loved the gothic, ghostly feel of this story--it felt a little bit like Psycho, but it was exciting and rang of familial love. Possibly my favorite of the volume.

Romaine Remains: 4 out of 5 stars. Darkly comic and sad all at the same time, about a reclusive, aging artist and her poor, resentful caretaker, I was halfway between crying and laughing the entire story. I felt strangely sympathetic toward both characters. I really enjoyed the strange bond between two misfits, but at times it was hard to follow.

The Autobiography of Allegra Byron: 5 out of 5 stars. The story of Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, and the nun who loves her. This story was so sad--the nun's story made me cry, and I fell in love with little Allegra, who wanted nothing more than her father's love, cookies, and freedom. It rang of a mother's love, and the sadness of an orphan without family. It was one of the contenders for my favorites.

Saving Butterfly McQueen: 5 out of 5 stars. I loved the style of this story, of a woman of color, who wanted to give her body to science, and made her living acting. It was deeply poignant and affecting for me--it told a story of a woman who was a minority, and the very personal struggles she went through, in her career and her own faith. Fantastic!

Who Killed Dolly Wilde? 5 out of 5 stars. Oh, this story. This was so painful. It told the story of Dolly Wilde, a descendant of the infamous Oscar Wilde, and an addict, and the close friend that loves her dearly. It dripped of the raw power of hopeless, unrequited love, and the horrors of war, and untreated PTSD. Absolutely amazing.

The Lottery, Redux: 5 out of 5 stars. I remember reading the inspiration of this story, by Shirley Jackson (may she rest in peace--she's an amazing writing inspiration for me, and a titan), in high school, and being absolutely terrified of it for weeks afterward. Bergman's take on it did a fantastic homage, and I loved every heart-pounding, frightening second of it!

I loved this book of beautifully written and meticulously imagined stories--absolutely amazing! Next on deck: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul!

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