Chances are good that she calls you up a lot, probably at inappropriate hours, whining and carrying on either about how awful her boyfriend is, how awful her last date was, or how awful it is that no man wants to go out with her despite the fact that she's FABulous. And to makes matters worse, she shows nearly no insight about the women who, like her, love men in prison -- for example, although she notes in passing that the majority of these women were abused either as children or adults or both, she never seems to make any connection between their histories and their involvement with men unavailable to them.
One thing to note is that she still continues to see herself as "not one of them" (those women) and keeps pointing out how she doesn't "need" to be there (because of how she looks, is educated etc.) Also, it is important to suspend reality with the prisoner she grows close to because he is able to create this ideal relationship (in his description if not his situation) and say exactly what she wants to hear or needs to hear.
Bridget grew up in New Jersey in a loving Italian-Irish family, wrote interviews for Publishers Weekly, and lived a normal middle-class life until her marriage broke up in a shocking, shattering way. Someone steered her to a young novelist with an amazing literary style, but he was serving a life term at Pelican Bay prison in Crescent City, CA. To perhaps rationalize her intentions and protect her secret love affair from friends and family, Bidget developed a project for herself-- interviewing and writing about other women who visited men in prison.
Instead, a bulk of the book was the author's own story of falling in love with a "lifer" in Pelican Bay prison in Crescent City, CA. She does interview of a few of the women she meets on visiting days and that part of the book is interesting, but so brief that it warrants only one star.
the part where she goes to chowchilla womens' facility with the children whose mothers are incarcerated was really moving, & if the whole book was like that it would have been super. i just wish the author looked more at the bigger picture of why the prison-industrial complex is so fucked, & why women love men who are incarcerated--i think these are two totally interesting subjects that are basically glossed over (despite the fact that the latter is allegedly the focus of the book).
Bridget Kinsella's personal story interested me less.
Reading about how Bridget fell in love, the counter to my experience of falling out of it with a man in prison, was more than eye opening; it pulled off an old bandaid and revealed the well-healed scar beneath it.
She spends most of her time lamenting the failure of her marriage to a man (who was not in prison) who later discovered that he was gay, and what her divorce meant for her possibilities of future motherhood. She also continually stressed that she was "not that type of woman" (someone who marries a man behind bars), even though she "fell in love" with a prisoner (whom she does not marry). The author is also quick to find potentially manipulative behavior in the prisoners, and she calls Rory (the man she "loves") emotionally manipulative more than once.
Bridget Kinsella is the author of Visiting Life: Women Doing Time on the Outside . Maybe I can help this talented inmate get his work published.