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The Changing of Helen
Laura Lippman's book, And When She Was Good is one of her best books. The main character, Helen (Hel or Heloise) is a woman who has gone through life trying to trust people. She has been systematically shown that people especially men can not be trusted. Helen becomes a Madam with her own escort services after being pushed around as an prostitute, then things start to crumble around her and she needs to make other choices. Luckily she is a resourceful person, but even her resourcefulness might not be enough.
Cynthia C. (Peekskill, NY)
And When She Was Good
The main character, Helen's chosen profession is in such opposition to her life as she has built it. Her understanding of the people's character although strong - after all the the life lessons - still can be considered naive. As Helen's story is unveiled, the reader is brought to each significant time and then becomes more sympathetic and understanding of Helen. The end has a twist, which is my favorite type of ending and leaves you suspended for a moment...
I have given And When She Was Good four stars out of five and found I really liked it. Certainly, it is a book that should hold people's interest and make some people think about the choices that are open for women without educations. For others, the plot gives you a ride bringing you on her journey with the ups and downs.
I am a big fan of Ms. Lippman in general, but I didn't particularly enjoy this book. Heloise wasn't a very likeable character and I had trouble with the flow and pace of the book. I usually whip through her books, but I struggled to finish this one.
Elisabeth W. (Durham, NC)
I'm sorry to say that And When She Was Good is not Laura Lippman's best. While it was easy to read, I found there was a lack of character development. A good author shows you a character's personality. I felt like Lippman neither showed nor told me much about the main character's (Heloise) persona. As a result, the characters fell flat for me. In addition, not much happened and thus there was not the compensation of an exciting plot. Bottom line, it was not a character driven book nor was it an action book - so what was it? This is an example of a successful author who was able to publish a substandard book because of the gloss her name brings to the cover.
Angela J. (Highlands Ranch, CO)
And When She Was Good - Laura Lippman
This book was plodding, and was far too long in the telling. The main character, Heloise is extremely unlikeable, and manages to blame everyone else for her troubles. None of the characters were fleshed out, so it was hard to stay interested.
Carole P. (framingham, ma)
And When She Was Good
I enjoy her books, just not this one. Hopefully, her next book will be better.
I have read many Laura Lippman books and always enjoy them. She is an easy read, with usually an intense fast moving plot. This story line was intriguing. A woman is found dead. She was a madam with a "black book. Was she murdered or did she take her own life. The voice of the book is another woman, who is also a madam. We go back and forth in time, coming to understand how her life took this direction. Do we view her as a victim, pushed into her life by things she had no control over? Should we see her as a moral person or a player? Is she somehow connected to the dead woman? All of this in interesting. However, it took too long to tell this story. It was not up to the caliber of her previous books.
Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)
Got To Look Out For Yourself
This was a really good read! I was able to get wrapped up in the protagonist: Heloise. She was believable and a real fighter. This book is no "Pretty Woman" -- similar only in the fact that she's a prostitute. She realizes at a young age that she shouldn’t rely on others for help because they usually disappoint. (This part I could relate to!) Now she has a young son who she must also look after. She gets into real-life situations, where some of the people she encounters are truly awful. We have all been around people like that. I could understand her and found myself "pulling for her" to get out of some of her more precarious situations. I admired her business acumen and wonder if I could have been as ingenious as she was. She knows what people think of her and she’s got more common sense than any of the others who judge her. She’s a fighter - and even better - she has moxie! I like Heloise an awful lot and I think other readers will too. If Hollywood didn't ruin most of the good stories out there - I would love to see this turned into a movie. I will settle for this book, and hope(!) that I will get the chance to read more about Heloise and how the rest of her life turns out.
Julia E. (Atlanta, GA)
Laura Lippman: And When She Was Good
Award-winning mystery novelist, Laura Lippman, has delivered another winner. Deftly, Lippman lures the reader into the morally murky world of a suburban Madam known variously as Helen-Heloise-Hel. Just like any suburban Mom, Helen is out to protect and provide for her son, only here the dangers are far more deadly than over-baking cookies for the PTA meeting--Helen is possibly being stalked by a revengeful killer. The reader is ever on the side of this resourceful, ambitious woman who, having been dealt a lousy hand in the game of life, plays her cards with skill and courage: one concurs that when Helen was good, she was very, very good,but when she was bad she understandably could be horrid. And therein lies the fascination of this masterfully written mystery novel.
Cheryl K. (East Aurora, NY)
Laura Lippman has given me so many pleasurable reading experiences, and this one was certainly as enjoyable. Although the main character, Heloise, at first glance appears weak and easily manipulated, she transcends all the negatives that have shaped her life and emerges intact. I love Ms. Lippman's characters....the good, the bad and the horrible. There would be many discussion points for a book club and I would definitely recommend this book to mine.