Monday, March 3, 2014

The Passion of Molly T.The Passion of Molly T. by Lawrence Sanders
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise of Lawrence Sanders' "The Passion of Molly T." is delightfully outrageous - women in the U.S. form a paramilitary organization to fight for equal rights, against rape, spousal abuse, pornography, etc. If I were to rate a book by its premise, this novel would clearly deserve five stars. Alas, the implementation of this splendid premise is lacking - the plot quickly loses plausibility, and is bogged down in a tangle of minor threads, with weak and unrealistic character portrayals.

The action takes place between 1987 and 1992 (note that the book was written about 1984). Two organizations carry the women's fight: the moderate National Women's Union and the militant Women's Defense Corps (WDC). The latter uses violence to further its lofty and deserving goals. Its mode of operation includes bombing buildings of companies that do not pay women fair wages, burning pornography outlets, lynching rapists, and the like. Many people are killed, others are maimed, yet, curiously, the prosecution of these acts is minimal, despite "everybody" knowing who is behind them. "Violence is the only road to reform in America" proclaims Molly T., yet she is allowed to stay free.

There are several hilarious bits in the novel. I particularly like the parody of a scholarly article that compares the rise and success of the WDC to the American Civil War. The concept of political engineering based on "weighted sampling" of very small numbers of potential voters (10 or so) to represent the entire population in swing districts is extremely funny, particularly because it might sound reasonable to people who have not taken a serious statistics course.

Overall: a fast and painless read, yet eventually vapid and unsatisfying.

Two stars.

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