Marching and The Hopefuls

I flew from Canada to Denver on Friday evening to participate in the Women’s March on Saturday, one of many marches around the country. I didn’t want to miss it and I’m glad I didn’t. It was a very unifying, uplifting, and nonviolent, peaceful experience in support of human rights, social justice, civil liberties, equality, the environment, and women’s reproductive rights. I’m totally stoked by the response around the world and how many women, men, and families of all backgrounds participated. In Denver alone more than 100,000 people marched through the downtown streets, and across the world more than a million. I hope it will do some good in this political climate. I know the experience as positive as it was will stay with me for a long, long time, and I will continue to fight over the next four years at every turn for our rights and those of others!

Since I’m on the road at the moment, I will leave you with a few brief reviews of things I finished last week.

“The Hopefuls” by Jennifer Close, 2016, 310 pages, Knopf

I always love a good Washington, D.C.-set, political novel and “The Hopefuls” has a lot of enticing things about it. It’s about a young married couple (Beth and Matt) who move for Matt’s new job in the Obama White House from N.Y. to D.C., where Beth has a lot of trouble adjusting. She deplores their new D.C. life, and all the political hacks and wannabes they go out with, but then eventually they meet another married couple they like — the charismatic White House staffer Jimmy and his wife Ashleigh from Texas, and the four become inseparable friends. Life is fun there for awhile, until Jimmy’s career takes off and the four spend a year together working on Jimmy’s campaign in Texas. Therein, things begin to crumble.

I kept waiting for the shoe to drop big time in this story, but it simmers along for quite awhile before a small reckoning occurs at the very end. There seems to be an inordinate amount of time spent on the characters’ daily lives, and I wondered if something was ever going to happen. It’s a story more about the relationship of the four characters and the jealousies, competition, and rumors among them.

I liked how it started off pretty funny, poking fun at things in D.C. I worked in the area for 15 years and had to laugh at some of the details the character Beth disdains about life there, where it’s all about who you work for and what you’re doing, and is filled with political nerds. The author did a good job making that life feel authentic. The second half of the novel is less humorous as the characters’ lives take a turn and working on the campaign becomes exhaustive and claustrophobic. I liked parts of the novel but just wish the shoe or something had dropped earlier. It’s not as light or breezy a read as I thought it was going to be.

“American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst” by Jeffrey Toobin, 2016, 368 pages, Doubleday

I listened to this as an audiobook and was pretty riveted to it the whole way. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. The book is packed to the gills with information about the incredible Patty Hearst saga and the context and various radical groups of the Bay Area during the 1970s. Holy smokes, I had no idea about some of the details of the crime spree and the Symbionese Liberation Army. I remember the trial of Patty Hearst being on the morning news when I was 10 years old, but I didn’t realize all the places the S.L.A. hid out, or the shoot-out in Los Angeles, or the re-grouping on the farm in Pennsylvania, and how long it all lasted. But Toobin does a fantastic job of putting it all together — so many different people were involved — with some insightful analysis along the way. He leaves it open for you to draw your own conclusions about Hearst, though the evidence of her role is pretty overwhelming. I was amazed how she changed so dramatically from young student fiance to ardent revolutionary then back to a cop’s wife within a relatively condensed time span. It spun my head around twice over. These were extraordinarily tense times, and Toobin brings it all back home.

“Loving” — This movie recounts the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were arrested in Virginia in 1958 for being married to one another, and whose case went all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s an alarming and touching movie (Judy at the blog Keep the Wisdom was right of course. I could have used a Kleenex by the time the credits rolled). The actors, Ruth Nigga and Joel Edgerton are terrific and the director/writer Jeff Nichols, who’s made such films as “Mud” and “Take Shelter,” is always one to follow. I still want to find and watch the documentary about the Lovings, which this movie is based upon. They were quite an inspiring pair!

“Elle” — This French film is quite controversial. I had no idea before I saw it what I was in for. All I knew was that Isabelle Huppert won the Golden Globe for her performance in it, and that it had subtitles. But in reality it’s about a businesswoman who plays a cat and mouse game trying to find the man who raped her. I found it disturbing and crazy (unreal), and I can’t say I would recommend it. There’s too many other better things to watch. My husband is still angry that I took him to see this. It’s a bit hard to erase in your mind once you have.

What about you, have you read these books, or seen these movies, and if so, what did you think?

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32 Responses to Marching and The Hopefuls

  1. I loved American Heiress — Toobin did a masterful job telling this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story and letting us draw our own conclusions about whether Patty Hearst was “brainwashed”.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yes Ann, I agree, Toobin seemed to let the evidence just speak for itself & let the reader draw their conclusions. I found the book fascinating. I’m glad you felt same way about it. I’m still thinking about all the different people who were involved in it.

  2. I regret that I didn’t take part in a march yesterday and am proud that you did! I want to get my hands on American Heiress.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Kathy. It was a great day marching. You’ll be there next time! I think you might find American Heiress pretty gripping in a nonfiction kind of way.

  3. Brian Joseph says:

    I took part in the Long Island branch of the march. It was an amazingly positive event both locally, nationally and internationally. I also hope that it leads to more action and more good things.

    American Heiress sounds very good. I also remember hearing about the real thing on the news when I was very young.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Wow great Brian! So glad you did the March. I agree it was so positive and an amazing experience. I hope it will help & continue. I think you’d like American Heiress. I found it unreal, and discovered so much that I didn’t know about the case and times of the 1970s.

  4. I wasn’t able to march down here in Florida, but am proud my daughters participated in NYC. American Heiress is already on my nonfiction list. I’ve read Toobin before (The Nine) and thought that was excellent, so look forward to learning more about Patty Hearst. I’ll probably go the audio route, too.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi JoAnn, I’m sure you will love the audio of American Heiress. I think I listened to parts of it twice — it was so intriguing. What a chapter in history. Good grief I had no idea about all of the particulars. And I’m so glad your daughters marched in NYC. That must have been amazing.

  5. Carmen says:

    I have seen the American Heiress book in stores but I’m not familiar with the case.

    I would like to see both movies, though I’m not a fan of Isabelle Huppert. I find her acting too flat for my taste. Maybe she is better in this movie.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Carmen, yeah I thought Elle was a bit of a weird movie or at least it takes a turn midway thru and you think: what, come on. But see what you think. As for Patty Hearst – she was kidnapped back in 1974 at the age of 19 and it became quite a case in the country! I usually don’t like true crime stories but the book American Heiress is quite a history of the whole ordeal.

  6. Dani says:

    I had not heard about “American Heiress” but now I am interested in reading it. I have vague memories of Patty Hearst’s name being mentioned in the news when I was a young child, and it would be interesting to learn more of the story.

    As for “Elle”: at least your husband sat through it. My husband would have balked at the subtitles, never mind the subject matter :-).

    • Susan Wright says:

      Ha Dani, thanks for stopping by. Yeah I don’t know how I was able to drag my husband to that film but I don’t he will let me forget it. You might like American Heiress — it’s quite a wild story. Much of it is hard to even believe!

  7. Michelle says:

    I wasn’t able to march yesterday, but congratulations for getting on a plane and doing so! I am so impressed by the outpouring of participants yesterday. If that did not cause Congress and the Senate to sit up and take notice, then nothing will!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Michelle, I really appreciate your comments. Yeah I must admit I’m still blown away by the whole event. What a great success worldwide. I had no idea it would really bring so many together on one day! I hope it will make a lasting impact & that it will happen again! Who knows if Congress will be totally tone-deaf to it but I hope to keep after them.

  8. Thanks for marching! I’m already feeling nostalgic for books set during the Obama years with small scale problems, sigh.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Sarah. It was such a great day. I know what you mean about being nostalgic for the Obama’s days in books. I miss him already.

  9. Judy Krueger says:

    All my besties that could marched. I was so proud. My health doesn’t permit marching in crowds anymore but I was with you all in spirit. Have you seen the Facebook Hear Our Voice 10 Actions in 1oo Days site? It gives us things to do to keep up the pressure. Today I got all my congressional and House of Reps contacts together and followed them on Twitter. Might as well put social media to good use I figure.
    American Heiress sounds like something I should read, since I read The Girls last year. Maybe better than Helter Skelter for the truth of the thing. I think we are heading into times even more intense than we had in the 60s and 70s.
    I loved Loving! Despite your warning I think I will see Elle, someday when I am feeling mentally and emotionally strong.
    Great post today!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Judy, I really appreciate it. I will check out the site on Facebook that you mention. We need to keep the pressure on! I hope to stay involved in the Women’s March movement & all the things that people were marching for. Such an amazing day. Loving was a great film so glad I saw it on the big screen. I’d be interested to hear what you think of American Heiress, set amid the counter-culture days. I didn’t know half of what was in the book. As for Elle it takes a weird turn that is hard to like, but I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

  10. Rachel says:

    Thank you for marching – I wish I would have been able to.

    Good to know about Elle. I have it my list to see since it got a Best Actress Oscar nomination but I might skip it. Loving is definitely on my list!

    The Hopefuls sounds good. Maybe I could read it and pretend that Obama is still president. I miss him so much already!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yeah Rachel: I know what you mean about the Obamas being gone. Ugh. I am ready to March again in light of this new president! I would pass on Elle but I found Loving to be really inspiring & moving. Being a former DC person, I’m glad I read The Hopefuls, though it was a bit different than I thought it was going to be.

  11. Naomi says:

    That’s awesome that you were able to fly to Denver to march! It was such an inspiring event – I hope it holds!

    I don’t know anything about Patty Hearst, but her life sounds fascinating. There are so may interesting people to learn about… Like the Lovings, for example. That’s a movie I’d like to see, but I’m not sure my husband will want to watch it. Nothing sad or intense for him. It still blows my mind that something like that could happen only just a few decades ago. (okay, 5 decades)

    • Susan Wright says:

      I agree Naomi. It’s hard to believe it was in 1967 that the Supreme Court had to rule on interracial marriage. That’s not long ago at all in terms of scope. The movie about the Lovings is terrific, I hope you get to see it. As for the Patty Hearst case, it really had the U.S. in a vice grip in the 1970s. Sort of like the OJ trial but much different, having to do with the counter-culture.

  12. Marion says:

    Jeffrey Toobin is an amazing writer and one of his trademarks as a writer in my opinion is the way he lays out all the facts and leaves the reader to choose. You might know but we had marches down here in New Zealand in all the major cities, I couldn’t go but the unity was described as being heartwarming. We took special note of the march in Denver because our daughter lived there for 12 years and we know it well.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh thanks for your comment Marion. I’m glad New Zealand was marching too! I hope your daughter liked Denver; it’s a pretty good place I think. I lived once in Colorado too long ago, and still love it. The unity & kindness that day marching was amazing. I hope it will happen again. I agree with you about Toobin; this was my first book of his but I plan to get to his Supreme Court book too.

  13. JaneGS says:

    Both books so pretty good to me. I remember the Patty Hearst kidnapping and aftermath, so I think American Heiress would be very interesting through the lens of history. The Hopefuls sounds interesting–having never worked in such an environment, I find the premise totally fascinating.

    I was in the March in Denver–it was a great, amazing day. Glad you could join us!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Jane, so great that you were at the March in Denver too! What a day! I still feel great about it. I think for people who recall the times of Patty Hearst, the American Heiress book is truly a fascinating read. I think you would enjoy it. It took me back to the 1970s for sure.

  14. Hello Susan. Both suggested books look very interesting. Especially the second. I would be tempted to read it (one day). As for the film, your husband had the same reaction of most of my acquaintances who saw it. They did not like it at all. So I will not go, I will see it on television soon… because I like Isabelle Huppert very much.
    P.S. I definitely want to see “Loving”

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi RT, yeah I can imagine people would have a strong reaction to the French film Elle. It is disturbing and seems implausible (I didn’t care for it), but you be the judge of it. Though I wouldn’t mind seeing Huppert in another film, maybe: Things to Come which she also did last year.

  15. I love that you attended the march, Susan. It is indeed inspiring. 🙂

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh thanks Deepika! I appreciate your words. Yes it really pumped me up in an uplifting way. I hope the marches against these policies will continue.

  16. Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for leaving the safety of your sane country and entering our insanity! One week later and it seems things are imploding at an exponential rate. We’ll continue to fight but it feels very dark…

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yes thanks to you as well Catherine for Marching in Seattle. Yeah I see things are imploding there; I find myself very ticked off by the policies Trump’s implementing. The whole infringement of reproductive rights of women has my hackles up. Not to mention the dumb Wall and ban on Muslims. I’m ready to March again.

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