I’ve been meaning to read this for a few years, ever since I heard it would be made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. But I put it off after a while because the reviews for the book itself weren’t great and the movie seems to have stalled (it was announced back in 2019 but I’m guessing Covid and/or Lawrence’s pregnancy have changed things).
Anyway, since I’m on a mob kick, I decided to finally pick it up and I’m so glad I did.
I think this book, or perhaps Arlyne Brickman, is misunderstood. I don’t think this is meant to be a tale of niceness or likability. I don’t know if Arlyne Brickman is relatable. I really think this is a story of a person who had a fantasy packaged to her by her parents and the world around her of existing as a dream girl in a world full of tough guys and was smacked down (literally and metaphorically) by the fact that the mafia, like most things, is a violently patriarchal society.
Teresa Carpenter, a veteran Village Voice reporter who told a similar tale of a woman navigating a violently patriarchal world (Dorothy Stratten), brings an experienced hand to this storytelling. She does a great job of putting us in Arlyne’s world, talking about both the limited choices she had and the bad ones she made. I think she expects some maturity from the reader to see Arlyne as complex, even when she is acting foolish. That’s what made the book for me.
It reminded me a lot of Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy, the basis for the movie Goodfellas. It’s not as good of a book as that one but it covers similar terrain and in a story that is rarely told (women in the mob). I hope the movie gets made some day.