The Real Lolita

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman is as much a book for literary nerds as it is for true crime aficionados. It actually presents two mysteries intertwined into one. The first is the story of eleven-year-old Sally Horner, who was kidnapped in 1948 by Frank La Salle and subsequently taken on a twenty-one month journey from Camden, New Jersey to San Jose, California. The second is the relationship between Sally and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, which was said to have been inspired by Sally’s half-forgotten story. Nabokov never admitted to how much he pilfered from Sally’s horrific experience, but there is evidence presented in this book that seems to confirm a connection. Perhaps Lolita is even darker than you remember it being?
Was this review helpful?
I'm a big Nabokov fan, and a big true crime fan, and Weinman carefully balanced those elements against telling a real human tragedy and making sure that this, above all, is what we're left with when we close the book. Terribly sad but very well-handled.
Was this review helpful?
A phenomenal narrative about a crime so few people know about. Sarah Weinman did an amazing job of piecing everything together and giving some sort of justice to Sally.
Was this review helpful?
I've found myself thinking of this story since the Hazlitt article the author wrote in 2014, so I was thrilled to see that there was a full-length work that explored the story further. 
It was a great mix of true-crime and literary history that made me want to go back and read Lolita, though it's reframed the perspective I'll look at it from.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for an e-ARC of The Real Lolita for review. 
The parts of the book about Sally Horner were very interesting and the true crime book I was hoping to read. Unfortunately, I found they were a lot less than I wanted. A lot of this book is about the author of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov and when and how he may have learned about Sally’s story and if he used it as inspiration or not. 
If you are looking for a book about the author with a little true crime about a case that may or may not have inspired it, this may be a good fit for you. I was hoping for more true crime and have never actually read Lolita or anything by Nabokov so I skimmed almost all of that part.
Was this review helpful?
Not familiar with any of the writers or stories so book was insight to both . Sarah was thorough in her research . Book was a sad commentary on life on a innocent girl who never got a break. Sexual predators will always be in our society and we must educate all on their evilness .
Was this review helpful?
This book is part biography and part research.  I thought it would be dry, but from the first, it made me stop and think about how I viewed the story of Lolita, as just a story about an underage girl and an older man,  or as it really was, a story about a child predator. Discovering that it was drawn from real life both surprised and shocked me. And I truly believe that parents and society today can still learn much about protecting our children better. It's not always " stranger danger", and this book makes that very clear. Very well researched and written.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting blend of true crime and literary criticism. I think I would have liked a little more the criticism, but the book still came together quite well. The Real Lolita was deeply upsetting, but highly readable and mostly difficult to put down. My only complaint is that Weinman seems to lose focus around halfway through. The book started out quite balanced, in regards to the alternations between chapters on Horner and Lolita. Eventually the chapters on Lolita and Nabokov became a little too far apart. Otherwise, this was still a very well researched and written book, and I would recommend it to anyone who has read and continues to be haunted by Lolita.
Was this review helpful?