It isn’t often you cross paths with a debut novelist who found your bookish blog via a random Google search, however, this is *exactly!* what united my path with debut novelist Jenni L. Walsh – of whom is the author of a duology about the scandalous and infamous couple: Bonnie + Clyde! I can almost hear your murmurings… is that a story Jorie would normally lean towards embracing? Actually, technically your right, it’s not generally my cuppa tea, except for one unexpected element which was stitched into the writings of Walsh: she took on the legacy of the duo through a sociological pair of intuitive eyes to seek out the reasons why Bonnie not only joined in alliance with Clyde but what motivated her to seek out an outlaw lifestyle after having such a traditional upbringing.
When I first received notice of this release (‘Becoming Bonnie’) – I must admit, the first thing I remembered was how one of my dearest friends in the UK had had this incredible interest in sourcing biographies and historical perspective narratives about Bonnie and Clyde. It was a keen interest of hers and one I enjoyed hearing about as she was trailing behind them by what was historically known and what was being inserted into their life’s story by the pieces and threads of what researchers and historians alike were able to re-knit back together. I never forgot her dedication nor her curious attachment to them. Admittedly, I had a certain interest in the collective works of Mario Puzo, so you could say our conversations were quite interesting all the way round!
When it came to deciding how to *celebrate!* the #PubDay for #BecomingBonnie, I knew I wanted to host a conversation with Ms Walsh – noodling out some of the curiously curious details I was itching to find out about myself once I was able to dig into the narrative directly. Thankfully, I will be soon listening to the audiobook – whilst sharing my ruminative thoughts on how Walsh was able to articulate her goal in humanising Bonnie and giving us a strong impression of how Clyde influenced Bonn to live a life dangerously on the fringes of both society and the law.
What I respected the most though – is how Walsh changed her first trajectory angle of the story – as she was going to start on the sequel before writing the prequel (if you look at it from that perspective). I was thankful this first installment of the duology hinges on alighting ourselves into the shoes of Bonnie before she became an outlaw’s girlfriend and before she took the tentative steps towards exiting the life she once knew and embraced living dangerously on the edge. It reminded me of why I was keen to watch ‘Road to Perdition’ as it wasn’t told from a point-of-view your expecting but rather approached it from the sociological underpinnings of what led to the choices and the lifestyle of title character. In a way, I felt this was what Walsh had done with Bonnie – and that is why I accepted showcasing this new release. I wanted to know how she found a channel into the psyche of Bonnie whilst owning the truth of her journey and remaining unbiased by the actions Bonnie took once she bonded herself to Clyde.
If life is ultimately about choices – you have to wonder, if Bonnie and Clyde had taken an alternative series of steps towards their futures, what would their life stories tell us now? Or to put it a different way – what fractured their lives to such a degree of broken dreams, they had no other recourse than the path they took? I doubt we will ever fully understand the choices they made – but if a writer can knit out the heart of an infamous girl like Bonnie, than surely Ms Walsh is the one who rooted out Bonnie’s voice and left behind an authentically altruistic impression about her life.
Subtitle: The Crash of the Century: When Bonnie Met Clyde
by Jenni L. Walsh
From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh comes the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo.
The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas's newest speakeasy, Doc's.
Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn't know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.
She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.
Few details are known about Bonnie's life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.
Places to find the book:
Also by this author: Becoming Bonnie
Available Formats: Hardback and Audiobook Read More