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review 2018-02-11 14:01
The Queen Bee ★★★★☆
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

The endlessly quotable writing saves this book from being a fairly standard Southern Gothic Romance. The plot and characters are full of tropes. But, oh, so much fun in the way it’s written and the way the characters are drawn! It’s told from the POV of the Ingénue, who at the time of telling the story is older, wiser, wearier, and who looks back at her naïve former self with a lot of sympathy and a little impatience. For me, though, she is still far more sympathetic than I am, as Reader, and indeed much more sympathetic toward the male characters than I have patience with – I think they all deserve a good kick in the pants. And, although this is the point of the book, I simply can’t view the Queen Bee as all-powerful, though she is deliciously wicked. In order to fall in with the narrator’s POV, the reader must be willing to adopt that tired old attitude that men are helpless victims of their libido when women weaponize sex.

 

Still, though, this is a really fun read:

It was then that my aimless, drifting eyes came to Eva. Listening, she stood near a lamp, its glow enfolding and caressing the soft hair, the sweet lifting breasts, the singing line of body. Her hand rested on the back of a nearby chair. And seeing the body not yielding now but tensely held and wary, the tilted head, the raised chin, the lambent eyes which seemed to look at something far off, I was suddenly afraid. In her tense stillness there was the deadly, wary waiting of the reptile, its poisonous fang sheathed but ready to strike, swiftly and with cunning accuracy.  

 

Vintage 1949 hardcover, inherited from my grandmother. And here’s a fun bit of trivia for Texas history buffs: it still has the original price sticker, from E.M. Scarbrough & Sons (colloquially referred to as “Scarboroughs” in the way that native Austinites pronounce their places as they damn well please), stamped “Literary Guild $2.00”. I remember shopping at the Scarbroughs in downtown Austin when I was a kid. All that’s left, alas, is the historic building.

 

Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the 1955 movie. Didn’t even know there *was* a movie adaptation until I looked for a synopsis to get a sense of what the book was about, since my copy is missing the dust jacket. But, oh, I’m definitely going to spend the money to rent it. I can’t wait to see Joan Crawford bring that predatory female to life as only she can.

 

Previous Updates:

2/7/18 page 3

 

2/7/18 Movie trailer

2/8/18 page 9

 

2/9/18 page 35

 

2/10/18 page 140

 

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text 2018-02-10 18:26
The Queen Bee - page 140/220
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

It was as if when he learned I was valued by someone else I assumed more value in his estimation. For this was how he appraised and judged the worth of women. 

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text 2018-02-09 13:55
The Queen Bee - page 118/220
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

Well, she's finally starting to see through Eva. This has been a fun read, so far, and the writing is really enjoyable. But it's starting to devolve into a more standard Romance-type plot, which is a bummer. 

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text 2018-02-09 12:18
The Queen Bee - page 35/220
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

Then as if his touch had pressed the spring of her emotion she was in his arms, her arms were clutched around his neck, her dark head was buried in his shoulder. The very curve of her body told me that within her was a capacity for loving so great that it was terrible. I could not bear to look. I turned my eyes away. 

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text 2018-02-08 18:16
The Queen Bee - page 14/220
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

I told it quietly, without emotion, without tears, with no intention of trying to ease my heart as people do sometimes, by pouring its pain into his. Yet, when I finished and he leaned over and laid his hand on mine, it was eased somehow. 

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