(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Griffith Moon on November 7, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Crime, Depression, Girls & Women, Law & Crime, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues
At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.
Set in modern-day Los Angeles, These Violent Delights is a literary exploration of the unyielding pressures and vulnerabilities that so many women and girls experience, and analyzes the ways in which our institutions and families fail to protect or defend us. A suspenseful and nuanced story told from multiple points of view, the novel examines themes of sexuality, trauma, revenge, and the American myth of liberty and justice for all.
“Don’t you find it interesting that these types of crimes against women – whether it’s violence, sexual assault, rape – are the only kinds where we force the victim to make a case of their own innocence before even investigating?”
When I read the summary for These Violent Delights, my first reaction was how incredibly timely this story is …. My second thought was that I needed to read it.
Windmere School for Girls is an elite girl’s private school in LA. Dr. Copeland, chair of the English Department is loved by all. He’s a romantic at heart and has found his home at Windmere. Parents loved him, the administration loved him, and his students loved him too.
What many don’t know is that he has a penchant for young girls… the ones who are intelligent, yet quiet and for years and years he preys on them with no one the wiser. That is until one former student decides she can no longer keep quiet.
I really appreciated the story Namkung tells, and the way it unravels. After the first student shares her story, several others come forward and unlikely friendships are made and dismantled, families are torn apart and lives are ruined.
Namkung’s journalist background is very much apparent through the telling of this story. Told in multiple points of view, as a reader you get facts/perceptions from the girls affected as well as the journalist telling the story. The one person we never hear from though, Dr. Copeland, is a bit frustrating, and I suppose that is life… so many of us want to know why someone does something and will never get the answers we need. With These Violent Delights, Namkung really delves into the ways that those who are meant to protect us fail and how that can affect us in the end.
Overall, this was an interesting story, but I never really connected with the characters on the level that I typically like to. While I sympathized with the characters, I wanted a bit more depth to them and I wanted more depth to the relationships.
This is an important novel because of what it explores and Namkung presents it in a way that is thought-provoking and honest. While there were aspects I didn’t love, I think it’s absolutely worth a read to understand the #metoo movement as well understand the long lasting impacts abuse can have for those who have experienced it.