Crazy Love: A Memoir by Leslie Morgan Steiner
St. Martin’s, March 30, 2010
As the fiction editor at BookPage, I read a lot of novels. But sometimes when Kate and I are going through the mail each day, I have nonfiction envy. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we got a finished copy of Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner. I was intrigued by the stark, graphic jacket, and the first lines of descriptive copy: At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: good looks, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job in New York City. Plus a handsome, funny boyfriend who adored her. But behind the façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions: She fell in love with the wrong person.
Crazy Love is the story of Leslie’s love-gone-wrong with boyfriend—and then husband—Conor. At first Leslie and Conor seemed like the perfect couple—totally in love and excited to begin their lives together—but slowly Conor begins to abuse Leslie, subtly and verbally at first, brutally and physically later. Gradually and methodically, he isolates her from friends and family, leaving Leslie terrified that she might never escape from the man she loves.
It’s not an easy book to read, but I think it’s an important one. And even though the subject matter is violent and difficult, Steiner’s writing is fluid and lovely.
Here’s an excerpt from the middle of the book, days before Leslie and Conor’s wedding, and just a few hours after Conor pushed Leslie up against a wall, choked her and then threw her to the floor over a simple misunderstanding.
I pretended I didn’t hear the Volkswagen pull in around 6:00pm. He came into my office holding the car keys, head down. I could smell fear on him, panic that I was going to vilify him for what he’d done or announce I’d canceled the wedding.
The dread on Conor’s face offered a spider’s thread of hope. If he were afraid, he’d never attack me again, right? I could leave anytime. And anyway, he’d just grabbed my throat. He couldn’t have hit me. We were getting married.
Three days later, when my family and our wedding guests started arriving, the ten small reddish brown bruises around my neck were so faint no one noticed them.
What are you reading this Wednesday? Do you have a favorite memoir?