The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman | Book Review


Pages: 320
Publication: Knopf Canada
Release date: September 30, 2018
How I got the copy: Penguin Random House Canada
Rating: 3/5


The Real Lolita is a literary investigation surrounding two things. One, the murder of Sally Horner and the life of the writer of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. I have yet to read Lolita for, I think, for obvious reasons however, I enjoy listening to true crime podcasts and shows and this peaked my interest. Since reading this book, I did not enjoy reading this as much as I do listening and watching true crime or perhaps it would have been beneficial to read Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita before hand. I don't know.

Sally Horner was abducted in 1948 at eleven-years-old. She's thought to be the inspiration of the highly known book, Lolita. With so many similarities, it's convincing to see where the author, Sarah Weinman, is coming from and her efforts to uncover Vladimir Nabokov's effort to disguise the knowledge that he knew of the Sally Horner case. The Real Lolita is the story of Sally Horner, told for the first time, telling the intertwined story of Sally Horner, her kidnapper, and Vladimir Nabokov.

It's an interesting investigation but hard to read at times. I actually didn't know going into the book we would be uncovering Vladimir Navokov's life story as well but found it interesting to understand the author as much as I could from this book. I learned about the author more thoroughly, reading about his life before being a published author, his struggles with being published, his life, and about his fame after Lolita was published in the US. The farther into the book I got, the more I didn't understand why, if true, Vladimir Nabokov couldn't reveal the inspiration of the book.

I definitely found the true crime aspect of the book more interesting, it's the reason I initially picked up the book but I did find there's tons of speculation about some of the evidence surrounding the case of Sally Horner. I found myself frustrated that there's no solid evidence or story told by Sally Horner about everything that happened to her when she was abducted. As it was a different time, a lot was left unsaid and what happened to Sally stayed with her to battle on her own.

I enjoyed reading the connection between true crime and the telling of Lolita but there were times I felt the author was trying to convince the reader of what she speculated happened instead of providing the facts in an unbiased opinion even when there weren't many or any facts and even when stating her own opinion.

The Real Lolita is a tragic book for its topic but I think to those interested in discovering the connection between the true crime case and literature this would be a good one to pick up.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by Penguin Random Houses Canada in exchange for an honest review*

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