SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2018. 320p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062661920. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062661944. CRIME
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OrangeReviewStarIn 1948, 11-year-old New Jersey schoolgirl Sally Horner was kidnapped by a man who claimed to be an FBI agent. That man, pedophile Frank La Salle, held Sally in captivity, posing as her father, for nearly two years. Her dramatic escape was covered in most major news outlets. During this time, a Russian émigré was working sporadically on a novel and climbing the academic ladder at U.S. Ivy League schools, heading west to hunt butterflies in the summertime. Several years after Sally's rescue and the imprisonment of La Salle, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita was published. Crime writer and editor Weinman uses her research skills to connect Sally's story with Nabokov's controversial novel—a connection that Nabokov denied but Weinman disproves point by point. Nabokov, easier to research but perhaps more cunning, left hints and riddles in the text of his novel and in his notes that point to Sally Horner.
VERDICT This intricate balance of journalism and cultural critique is perfect for historical crime readers, feminist scholars, victims' rights advocates, and literature lovers. Recommended as a squirm-inducing read-along with Nabokov's novel. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 29.]

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