3 out of 4 stars
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Besty Roberts is a two-part story detailing the life of Betsy as she is kidnapped at an early age by two evil men. The story then follows her life as she escapes the murderous men and starts a new life in new york. Betsy evolves into a smart, cunning and alluring businesswoman. Readers follow her life's journey from her earliest youth up to her death. The story cleverly shows the life of Besty during her capture, and then shows her life after freedom and how she navigates herself as a woman living in a predominately male-dominated society. The story is mostly based on real-life historical characters and the first part of the story is a retelling of America's first known serial killers.
Betsy and her character evolution was the most interesting part of the story. She begins fragile and is moulded into having an evil streak by the influences of the murderous Harpe Brothers, Micajah and Wiley. She does immoral things in order to give herself a better chance of survival, even allowing helping the brothers out on many occasions. Betsy always looks ahead justifies doing bad things as a means of survival. When she is finally given freedom, she is left with nothing. She has no family and has to use her wits to completely start a new life. Seeing Betsy use all the skills and tools she learnt during her time with the Harpe brothers makes a really interesting read. Though she grows into a beautiful, smart, independent woman, she cannot completely shake the immoral ways she lived with for so long, and so sets up illegal businesses. It is great to see Betsy so powerful and in control of her life, and even though she isn't wholly a good person, readers can still admire this courageous streak in her.
Part 1 of the story details Betsy's capture and gives context to her life with the Harpe Brothers. We see Betsy do some really bad things and the longer she spends with the brothers, the more she questions herself and adopts the behaviours of the brothers. It is really interesting to look at this section of the story with a psychological analysis. However, there are many times in this first part of the story, that do feel quite repetitive and it seems the same things seem to happen chapter after chapter, just slightly differently. This does get a little tiresome, however, the story really picks up towards the end of part 1, as there is where the story-building and character-building come to an end and the real story begins.
Part 2 is much more interestingly written and details Betsy's goal and dream of living a life in New York. I loved reading the clever and sometimes exploitative ways in which Betsy acted to achieve her goal. Though she was acted with unkindness and abuse for most of the first part of the story, Betsy shows kindness and humility towards two slaves who she sees up for sale and buys them so they can have a better life with her. The friendship between Betsy and Esther is lovely to read and they become as close as sisters despite how different they are. It is a lovely message about how blood is not always thicker than water and family comes in all shapes and forms.
The story, written by N.G. Neville, does really well to set out a clear structure when exploring Betsy's life and this makes it a really engaging book for readers and allows it to be really accessible and easy to follow. There are a few small errors, where very rarely names are mixed up and the wrong name is written, but these do not take away from the overall effect of the writing.
The only thing to be aware of in this story, is there are quite a lot of child murders and deaths. Though these are done for the purpose of the plot and are mostly done as tastefully as possible, quite a lot of the story revolves around child loss so this might be a trigger for readers who have experienced child loss themselves.
Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Though it is a bit repetitive at the beginning of the book, it is well worth the building of the story as the second part is phenomenal. I have deducted a star based on the fact the book does have a few errors and I would not say it has been professionally edited to the highest quality. However, the story is really engaging and perfect for those who want to sink their teeth into a length and gripping story about an ambitious and clever woman.
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