Monday, July 27, 2015

Revisiting a Classic: DAUGHTERS OF EVE by Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan's DAUGHTERS OF EVE is one of my favorite YA reads. It’s also one of those rare books I could read more than once and with each reading, I can gain a new insight about what I think Lois is trying to say. (Side note: I just skimmed through the “modernized” version of the book. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Updating a book is unnecessary. Giving a classic a makeover is like plugging a helicopter into Van Gogh’s Starry Night.)                 

The book is about a group of high school girls who join a sorority called Daughters of Eve, led by a charismatic and matronly advisor named Irene. Irene influences the girls, having varying experiences with the boys and men in their lives, to distrust and hate men. Only the reader knows that Irene’s bitterness stems from her own personal disappointments.

Irene successfully manipulates the girls to “fight back against oppression” through anonymous acts of violence, which begin with a brutal gang attack on a boy.

DAUGHTERS OF EVE is about one group justifying its questionable behavior with the argument that they are fighting for respect. The book also shows that one can make a heroic show of standing up to bigotry and promoting a cause, all while being a despicable person at the same time. This is not a feel-good revenge story but a warning tale about a self-serving leader and her naive followers. 

The original book was published in 1979 and its portrait of mob mentality still rings true today. I would even go as far as to say that reading DAUGHTERS OF EVE in my youth helped cultivate this tiny bit of self-awareness: I can wholeheartedly support a cause but not be a fan of an Irene-like individual or entity that has postured themselves as a leader of the movement. I can also be in disagreement with the approach followers of a like-minded cause take to handle non-supporters when it involves bullying or hypocrisy masked as “standing up for the right thing.”

What books, fiction or non-fiction, have raised your awareness about the dangers of Irene-like leaders and their followers?

14 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I read Lois Duncan when I was younger, but I don't remember this book - might need to check it out. And if I do, I'll see if I can get my hands on the original, not the updated, version. :)

Caitlin Lane said...

I've never read Daughters of Eve, but I'm definitely adding it to my list and seeing if I can pick it up on my next trip to the bookstore. Might I ask what some of the main differences are between the original and updated versions?

Claire Annette said...

This sounds like a very intense book. I've read other books by Lois Duncan but not this one. I'll add it to the to be read pile.
I agree that original versions really don't nee updating but I guess that's what marketing departments do to make books more attractive to a new audience.

Donna K. Weaver said...

It's amazing how easy it can be for people to justify actions they would never condone in any other group. I love books that make me think.

Chrys Fey said...

I've never read Daughter's of Eve but it sounds like my kind of book! And I love the new cover with the skull on the apple. Cool. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I've never read Daughter's of Eve but it sounds like my kind of book! And I love the new cover with the skull on the apple. Cool. ;)

S.P. Bowers said...

I haven't read this book. I'll have to put it on the list. Thanks for the heads up.

Arlee Bird said...

Offhand I can't think of a book that has raised my awareness in the way this book did for you. However I do find the idea of updating a book rather odd, but maybe it's okay if it doesn't affect the integrity of the story. Still though, I don't think an author should change a work in this way.

Lee
Wrote By Rote

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's why you always have to look to the real reasons for someone's motivation.

I read a review of something else recently where the reviewer (a woman) asked why do strong women have to be portrayed as men haters? And she's right, in that is a dangerous trend.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I loved this book too!
It had a nice complexity. Because sexism really was a problem in their community, and some of the ways in which they fought it were great. But then the whole thing went off the rails when it devolved into revenge and vigilantism. And so Duncan didn't have a stark good-and-evil situation, but something more complicated.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'd love to read this. I know I've read about characters like Irene, but I can't think of anything now. I don't believe old books should be updated. I don't care if technology, pop culture, or other things leave a time stamp on something. I actually prefer it.

Stephanie Faris said...

I read Killing Mr. Griffin in junior high...that was a long, long, LONG time ago! That book was rather disturbing in itself...kidnapping a teacher and accidentally killing him? Sounds like she pushed the edge with her young books back then!

Misha Gericke said...

I've never heard of this book before, but it does sound like an amazing read.

I think Fagan from Oliver Twist taught me to pay attention to people of his and Irene's ilk. :-)

Mark Koopmans said...

#LeaveOldBooksAlone :)

Enjoyed your post - and I want to read some of my old books again... you've helped me remember why I love them in their original form :)

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