“Long Black Veil” by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Cover of titular book, featuring a white face, pink lips beneath a black floral-and-clear veil; title and byline letters are in white and blurryBook: “Long Black Veil” by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Published by Broadway Books on 9th January, 2018
Genres: Historical fiction, LGBT, Thriller
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Rating: 3/5⭐
Source: Blogging for Books (received for free in exchange for an honest review)
Goodreads

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, looking for a thrill. With a pianist, a painter and a teacher among them, the friends are full of potential. But it’s not long before they realize they are locked in—and not alone. When the friends get lost and separated, the terrifying night ends in tragedy, and the unexpected, far-reaching consequences reverberate through the survivors’ lives. As they go their separate ways, trying to move on, it becomes clear that their dark night in the prison has changed them all. Decades later, new evidence is found, and the dogged detective investigating the cold case charges one of them–celebrity chef Jon Casey—with murder. Only Casey’s old friend Judith Carrigan can testify to his innocence.

But Judith is protecting long-held secrets of her own – secrets that, if brought to light, could destroy her career as a travel writer and tear her away from her fireman husband and teenage son. If she chooses to help Casey, she risks losing the life she has fought to build and the woman she has struggled to become. In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?

Ah, this book…I’d added it to my Goodreads TBR after perusing the LGBT genre. Then I removed it thinking, What is even the chance that I’d come to buy such a book? It wasn’t because of the book or anything—rather the whole complication of looking for a physical copy of a book because ebooks and I do not get on so well right now.

I have mixed feelings about this book, all of which can be summarized in a few points:

  1. It feels a lot like literary fiction, but it probably isn’t.
  2. The pacing is slow, and I got so bored I couldn’t help wondering why I’d had to read the 1-4 pages I’d just read, because it felt a lot like rambling.
  3. I don’t understand the purpose of first-person POV for the Judith’s perspective and third-person POV for everyone else. I don’t. I don’t know. What was the purpose of this?
  4. Long Black Veil is quite a quotable book.

It felt more like a memoir than a novel for a story. Some parts were interesting and fun to read, while others had me asking, Really? This again?

I feel more indifferent about it than I do, like, any other type of emotion required for thoughts on a book. It’s the kind that I couldn’t read if I didn’t want to sleep, because I literally kept falling asleep. There are parts that feel redundant and more like rambles than pertinent to the story.

Long Black Veil caught my attention, however, for the “living with all your selves” portion of the front cover quote. Because I have dissociative identity disorder. I thought that that was what it was about, but no. Even though the story tells that of a trans person, I did relate and find myself figuring out how to better put into words what it is like having DID. People don’t understand that it’s not just about loving your body and being OK with it that way.

The story itself is full-circle, which I did enjoy.

‘Twas simply the lot of it—the having to read through what felt like a lot of nonsense—that contributed to my feelings of indifference.

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Georgie’s gravatar

This actually sounds like a good book! You can probably tell I’m on the hunt for more fiction 🤪

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Kristen’s gravatar

I get frustrated when books have a lot of rambling and redundancy. But I’m glad you were at least able to relate some, and I suppose it could’ve been worse? Indifference is probably better than hate lol.

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Jamie’s gravatar

Ahh, this is one I have on my TBR because the synopsis just sounded so good. Kind of a bummer to hear that it rambles, I really hate books that feel like it’s filled with useless information that isn’t really pertinent to the story. I might still read it but I definitely won’t go out of my way to do so.

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