Title: Woman Enters Left
Author: Jessica Brockmole
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: August 8, 2017
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "In the 1950s, movie star
Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a
shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has
inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood
screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are
several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old
photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a
film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East
Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps,
about her own troubled marriage.
Nearly thirty years earlier,
Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T
westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the
promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best
friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is
desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and
reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage;
Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its
In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie,
Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover
their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths
we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our
My Two Cents:
"Women Enters Left" is the story of two different road trips taken a couple decades apart. In the 1930s, Florrie and Ethel have already been friends for about forever. They are leaving their jobs behind to go to the West Coast where she hopes to land a job in Hollywood. Decades later, Louise is running away from her life as an actress as she tries to put together why she has just inherited the estate of Florrie, a screenwriter that she barely knew. She will go on another, vastly different road trip. Filled with family secrets, this is a good story with a lot of twists and turns.
I loved the characters in this book. I was especially drawn to Florrie and Ethel and the story between them. They have a lot of history together being childhood friends and former co-workers. A large part of their story has to do with their former careers as "radium girls." This affects everything from their relationships and how they pan out to the more forward medical difficulties that really affect the story line. It is sad and fascinating and these characters give a face to the large amount of women that faced difficulties because of the radium.
The setting was great too! Who doesn't love the open road? I loved the juxtaposition between Florrie and Ethel's trip and Louise's trip. They both have very different feelings even though the setting is alike. They stop in different places. They figure out things in different ways but I really liked the road trip acting as a common thread between the two story lines. It made me want to jump in my car and go somewhere!
The writing of the book was good! One of the things that I liked the best is that the book is not only told through narrative but through journal entries, letters between characters, and other "found" items that really helped the characters feel real. As the author explains in her Author's Note, you really are able to get a sense of people from these "found" items. You know what makes them tick. You learn what they think of themselves through journal entries. You learn how they interact with others through their letters. It's little bits of themselves. This book allows you to put all of those things together yourself, which was sort of a neat experience as a reader.
Overall, this was a good story and I'm looking forward to more by Jessica Brockmole!