From Beauty Myth to Femme Fatales


the beauty mythThe first Saturday of the month is time for #6 degrees hosted by Kate booksaremybestandfavourite.

\We begin this month with The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. As I begin to write I realise how much I have internalised the ideas in this book. It is the reason I don’t wear make up. That and laziness.

A book that explores beauty and ugliness and so much more is Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters. The Remix edition, as the author intended, is not read in a linear way. The chapters are in mixed order. At the end of each chapter, you are directed to the next chapter you need to read. Palahniuk says he was inspired by the way fashion magazines are structured.  It is a disturbing book with quite graphic descriptions of cosmetic surgery.

Another book I found disturbing was Dead Europe by Christos TsiolkasWe read this in the Pocket Bookclub and Sue told me there was a scene that made her want to throw up. I kept reading and thinking I had got to that scene but the scenes got progressively more disturbing until I got to the scene I will not mention. I am not sure that any of us ‘enjoyed’ this book but it often comes up in our bookclub conversations.

Another book that Pocket Bookclub often re-discuss is We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver which of course many people also find disturbing. How did I get on such a path from The Beauty Myth? Shriver deploys an unreliable narrator to tell us of a mother’s guilt and a son’s violent rampage.  It poses the unanswerable question: nature or nurture?

A book that also explores nature and nurture is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. It is best to read nothing about this book before you read it. Nothing. Therefore I will write no more and maintain the surprising twist that was luckily a surprise for me.

A twist that took me by surprise was in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Again, the less I say the better but sadly most people will already know before they read it.  I could dig myself into a corner here. How can I make another connection if I am not willing to write about the book? I will pick myself up and say the femme fatale is a much loved and some might say overused trope in fiction.

So when I look on Goodreads for popular femme fatale books I find Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And there ends my list.


Very, very odd. The Beauty Myth is also on the list of “Popular Femme Fatale Books.”

“The beauty myth is always actually prescribing behaviour and not appearance.”
― Naomi WolfThe Beauty Myth

Next month: Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of A Geisha.

5 thoughts on “From Beauty Myth to Femme Fatales

  1. Such a terrific chain (or should I say circle?!). Invisible Monsters sounds interesting – I like books that challenge ‘how’ we read (similar is Caroline Smailes 99 Reasons Why which is an e-book with an interactive ending – you do a quick questionnaire and depending o your results, you get one of 12 endings).

    There’s a scene in Brett Eason-Ellis’s Imperial Bedrooms that I found so repulsive that I can’t ever ‘un-read’ it. Very disturbing. And agree about Kevin – I read it when it was first released and although I haven’t re-read it (I will one day), it’s a book that I think about constantly because it was so disturbing.

    Nature vs nurture – Fowler is a great pick. I loved that book so much (and like you, was thrilled by the twist).

  2. 12 endings! Intriguing. The thing about Invisible Monsters is you can read it from beginning to end as well. It is the still an excellent story – just a different story. How is that possible when it is the same words? He is a great writer as long as you are not squeamish.

  3. Looking at this list makes me realise again how many books I’d like to read that I haven’t had time to read!
    I thought the premise of Kevin was fascinating but there was so much unnecessary wallowing and pontificating that I set it aside. Apologies to those who are fans of the book!
    I read The Slap and hated it, so I’m glad I haven’t tried Dead Europe as I’d probably throw up too!
    We Are All… is on my bookshelf and I’m hoping to get to it soon. I still haven’t read Gone Girl either. I’m not much of a thriller reader but I’d like to give it a go, especially as I haven’t seen the movie.
    As for the others — they’re on the list!

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