Tag: Zonta International

The Only Woman in the Room Book Review

Marie Benedict’s historical novel The Only Woman in the Room provides an insight into the genius of movie star Hedy Lamarr. Since the point of view is that of Hedy herself, this is not a biography. The dialogue and thoughts are a work of fiction. So the events portrayed in the book are based on fact, but not all are proven factual.

The Only Woman in the Room opens onstage in 1933 Vienna. Thus, the reader discovers the actress at the young age of 19. But she is already an international figure. Furthermore, Benedict begins the story at what is now known as a critical point in history: Hitler’s build up to war.

Benedict’s style of writing keeps the reader intrigued. The pace is quick. I read the book in an evening. The insight into Lamarr created a desire to learn more. A brief Internet search led me to the conclusion that once again a historical female figure only received partial recognition for her contribution to society. In Lamarr’s case, the fame she received as an actress is really a side note.

I have not read any work by Marie Benedict before. But from the author’s note as well as the testimonial blurbs on the book cover, I believe her writing niche is one which brings the lives of important women to light. Thus Benedict is the perfect author to spotlight on International Women’s Day.

Historical significance needs time to develop. Fortunately, Hedy Lamarr lived long enough to begin receiving recognition for her scientific contributions. Unfortunately, her patents lapsed before she or her family reaped the rewards. But, The Only Woman in the Room reveals none of this. The book focuses on the decade from 1933 to 1942. These were pivotal years for both history and for the woman herself.

The Only Woman in the Room

The title refers to the time Hedy spent married to Friedrich Mandl. Lamarr’s first (of many) husband was considerably older than the protagonist. As an owner of a large munitions company during a time of unrest, Mandl was wealthy and well-connected. According to The Only Woman in the Room, he entertained both Mussolini and Hitler at his home. Hedy, at this time not working as an actress, and was a fixture at these gatherings.

As stated in the novel, the men overlooked the presence of Lamarr and discussed many technicalities of war weapons in front of her. This included flaws in the munitions systems. Furthermore, the heroine divined the true danger to individuals of Jewish heritage. Thus, the novel provides a set-up to Hedy’s flight from Europe and a motivation for her scientific inventions.

Patent Pending

The end of the novel creates a need for more from the reader. I was totally fascinated to know and learn about the life of Hedy Lamarr. I wanted more. How did Hedy and her Mom get along in their later years? Why did the military not jump at the invention? Did she invent anything else?

Unfortunately, only ten years are covered by the novel. But, Benedict does convey the true worth of Hedy Lamarr. She was not just a pretty face. Perhaps the biggest travesty is it took this novel for me to realize the important contribution Lamarr made to this communications revolution we enjoy. Bluetooth, WI-FI and even cell phones all descend from her patented invention. Kudos to Marie Benedict for sharing the importance of Hedy Lamarr by writing The Only Woman in the Room.

International Women’s Day

March 8th is known as International Women’s Day. In our small town it is celebrated with the delivery of yellow roses sold by the local Zonta International Club. I am the delighted recipient as well as a buyer this year.

There are many ways to celebrate this day honoring women across the planet. Take a yellow rose to a woman who has impacted your life in a positive way. Share with your children accomplishments of your mother. Read a book about contributions a woman has made in history. The Only Woman in the Room is one I would recommend. Happy International Women’s Day!

The Good Daughter Book Review

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is riveting. I could hardly put it down. Action, drama, crime, and mystery combine with love. Love for family, father-daughter, husband –wife. This book has it all. One of the best reads of the year. Some of the plot I could easily see but the tears flowed anyway.

Two Good Daughters

Charlotte (Charlie) Quinn is the Good Daughter. But her sister Samantha (Sam) in her own way is equally good. The novel opens with the two sisters struggling to pass a baton. Their mother is coaching them. A picture is painted quickly of a family, normal, nosy and loving. An intellectual mom married to a lawyer who defends the lowest of the lowlife. Both involved parents.

Then disaster strikes. The fire-bombing of their house pales in comparison to the murder and rampage that follow. The sisters manage to survive their physical injuries. But neither has fully healed psychologically.

Much of the story takes place twenty years after the opening scene. Charlie, the good daughter, shares a law office with her Dad. But not his practice. She has separated from her husband of 20 years. An ill-timed one night stand lands her back into disaster. Afterwards, she lands in the middle of a school shooting while retrieving her phone from the guy she hooked up with.

The new horror opens old wounds. Ben Bernard, the estranged husband as well as the assistant district attorney reaches out to Sam. He knows Charlie needs support. The two sisters have not spoken in decades. But Sam out of a sense of duty, arrives on the scene.

Gender-Based Violence

The plot line is well written. As the storyline unfolds, everything falls into place. The tale itself is full of violence. Violence against women lies at the heart of the book. Organizations such as Zonta International, AAUW and UN Women raise awareness every November against this type of violence with their 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. If you know, or have been a victim of such aggression, The Good Daughter may be tough to read.

Slaughter wrote with enough foreshadowing so the reader becomes wrapped up in the characters. Both Charlie and Sam are survivors. Even though their mother dies, she lives on through her teachings. Charlie carries the emotional scars and Sam bears the physical ones. Neither sister realizes what the other has experienced.

The school shooting triggers the reunion and the flashbacks. Both sisters are lawyers like their father. The three family members team up to defend the accused shooter, a young girl from a disadvantaged background.

The Good Daughter Redemption

The latter part of The Good Daughter focuses on forgiveness and above all love. Somehow Karin Slaughter infuses the characters in such a way you feel like you know them. Sibling rivalry is evident. But so is the familial love. Slaughter leaves you upbeat, which is hard considering the amount of violence in the story.

I am sure The Good Daughter will make my top ten list for books read in 2017. However, anyone with personal experience of this gender-based violence may not be able to handle some of the story. The power of the story comes from the love established among the Quinn family. The strength of the women is compelling. Please consider putting The Good Daughter on your reading list.

The Good Daughter