Excerpt from Rescuing Patty Hearst by Virginia Holman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Rescuing Patty Hearst

Memories from a Decade Gone Mad

by Virginia Holman

Rescuing Patty Hearst
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2004, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"What's wrong? What's happened?" he asked my mother. They leaned their heads together and he cupped the back of her head with his hand. "Oh, Nathan," I heard her wail. And she began to sob and sob.

Later, I remember her being in bed and my father telling me that she was sick. I said she was sad and confused and Dad said those things could sometimes make a person sick. My eight-year-old mind reasoned she was sad because the adventure had turned out so badly; because there had been no magnificent place or reward for following the color red.

Now I know she was sad and scared for a different reason -- she was having a delusion, and she knew she was having a delusion. She was disintegrating into madness, but she wasn't so far gone, yet, that she wasn't fighting it. Her tears were proof of that.

2000

Do you remember the first time you heard the voices?" I ask my mother. We're sitting beside a small fishpond in the Catholic nursing home where she now lives. I've just now started asking questions of my parents. For many years my mother has been too fragile and my father has flatly refused to discuss the past, but things have changed. My mother is relatively stable and my father has agreed to try to answer my questions.

My mother's gaze is fixed on the orange flashes of the Japanese carp in the water. I've come on this visit just so I can ask this one question and the mere thought of asking it provokes a fear that raises the hair on my arms.

"The very first time you heard the voices, do you remember when it was?" I blurt it out, unable to bear the weight inside me any longer.

She turns her face to me and smiles, exposing the wide lazy gap between her front teeth. "Oh yes." I feel my breath halt. Mother rests her hand on my arm. Her fingers look just like mine, small, but not shapely. The backs of her hands are dry and wrinkled; her palms a tight pink that looks almost polished. "It was the most glorious day. We were living in Virginia Beach. I went to the cleaners to drop off your father's shirts."

"What did the voices say? Were they scary voices?"

"No. The voices told me to drop off your father's shirts at the cleaners. They said, 'You've got a good-looking husband. Take his shirts to the cleaners.'" I laugh; I can't help it. I've been terrified of asking this question, thinking it might trigger something horrible in my mother or me, and I expected the voices to say creepy things, unnerving things. Something as strangely ordinary as "Take his shirts to the cleaners" never crossed my mind. Then she holds out her hand in front of her as a shield. "But the colors. Oh, Gawd!"

Schizophrenics often see auras around colors and objects. For my mother it was red. For Van Gogh it was the stars in the night sky.

"So the voices didn't bother you? They didn't scare you?"

"Not until later," she says and pulls her long graying hair off her neck. "It's too hot out here. I need to go back to my room." Visit over. Class dismissed.

1975

To our friends and neighbors in Virginia Beach our disappearance must have appeared to be the typical domestic variety -- a now you see them, now you don't sort of affair. What must they have wondered? Was Mother's leaving some flash of whimsy? A longing for liberation? After all, it was the age of Betty Friedan angst, and women on TV and in magazines were breaking the yoke of twentieth-century wifedom, getting divorces and jobs.

Our abduction, however, was wholly unlike Patty Hearst's clear-cut and dramatic departure from domestic life. In Patty's world there were good guys and bad guys, but then the bad guys turned out to be kind of cool. "Urban guerrillas." It was like the stories of people kidnapped by Indians who decided to stay and become part of the tribe. Anyway, until my mother told us, my sister and I hadn't a clue we were being kidnapped. I simply came home from school one afternoon and my mother told me we were going to our cottage in Kechotan for a couple of days. She said my father would join us there.

Copyright © 2003 by Virginia Holman

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Since She Went Away
    by David Bell

    A chilling novel of guilt, regret, and a past which refuses to die...

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!