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A Dangerous Woman

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Martha Horgan is not like other women. She stares. She has violent crushes on people. She can't stop telling the truth. Martha craves love, independence, and companionship, but her relentless honesty makes her painfully vulnerable to those around her: Frances, her wealthy aunt and begrudging guardian; Birdy, who befriends her, then cruelly rejects her; and Colin Mackey, th...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

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Amy
Although I can completely understand why some felt this book was not their cup of tea, I really love Mary McGarry Morris' novels and this is no exception. I think she is one of the most underrated novelists in part because she does her job so well as she tends to focus on the different, the uncomfortable and the painful. And, she does it exceptionally well here with the story of Martha. This character is so interesting to me - fascinating really. We never really find out for 'sure' what Martha i...more
Jess
Although I agree that this book was very disturbing & made me quite sad, I feel like it's important to read about people who we don't "get." it definitely makes you think about how understanding we, as a society, are not towards people who are different. It definitely was upsetting, especially the way almost nobody seemed to try & truly get help for her, but LIFE is upsetting.

People like Martha often become the homeless person on the corner who talks to herself or the dangerous criminal...more
Jack Ferreri
A study of a poor, troubled woman in her thirties in a community that doesn't provide her any help, leading to a tragic conclusion. I thought this was reasonably well done. Reminded me of some of the Joyce Carol Oates I've read -- melodramatic, occasional pockets of engaging action, lots of character insight, and a look at the underclass. We see Martha Horgan go through a horrific incident when she's seventeen (in the opening pages). She would have had a difficult life even if this hadn't happen...more
MicheleinNJ
I can describe this book in two words. Unrelentingly disturbing.

You know from the first page how this book will end and every page takes you closer to that place you don't want to go. It's like you are a prisoner on a forced march to certain doom. There is not one moment of reprieve, of lightness, of possible hope, in the entire book.

If you like this sort of thing, I do have to say that the author is a good writer and it is a well done story of a woman mistreated by almost everyone because of he...more
Irishcoda
After reading A Dangerous Woman I've decided that Mary McGarry Morris is my new favorite author. She is amazingly perceptive about people and life in small towns and makes you feel like you are there watching the story unfold--sometimes like you are a part of it! I think we all know someone like Martha Horgan: "different", difficult to talk to or to be around and someone who is just "weird". There's been something "different" about Martha her whole life. She is socially inept, painfully honest a...more
Rain
I was able to finish this book and somewhat enjoyed it, but the story tends to circle 'round and 'round without ever really arriving anywhere until the very unsurprising end.

One aspect of the book that I liked is that Martha is to some degree mentally challenged (Aspergers, perhaps?) but she doesn't evoke much sympathy as she is rather unlikeable; yet, she embodies a much stronger moral character than most of her more "normal" cohorts. I feel that the author, by presenting Martha in this manner...more
rebekah
Nov 06, 2007 rebekah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: OCD peeps, weirdos, people who like to read
Picked this gem up at a second hand book shop in Madrid on Sunday, I read it in two days. Don't you love books like that? Where you gotta finish or you'll die? It was tragic, fabulous and engaging. The kind of book that makes you think you too, are mentally ill. Also the kind of book that makes you wish the author had more for you, much more. You wind through the charcters lives and can't quite believe it's fiction...I love books about nuts, makes me feel less alone. And less nuts.
Mandy Bryant
Fun freak show! This was my intro to this great author. Like many of my fav books, it has a Southern Gothic feel, where the author shows you the beauty amongst the ugly. If you can make yourself look at the train wreck, you'll also see the triumph of the human condition--a life lived with all its messy, horrific, beautiful glory. One of my all-time favs. Of her work, only A Hole in the Universe bests it.
Jamie Waters
I HATED this book it took everything I had to finish it. The ending was awful and the whole book I thought it will get better it has to but it never did.
Denidevine
This is a heartbreaking story that I couldn't put down and have never forgotten...
Ashley
I thought this was a great book. Teaches tolerance and that everyone is different.
Kate W
I basically skimmed the book for book club. I normally don't do that with fiction.
Jody  Julian
“Poor Martha, every incident was high drama, every confrontation a disaster, every slight a blow. Such an exhausting life, without subtleties, propelled by fear and anxiety.” –pg 53

This is the story of 30 year old Martha, who has never been diagnosed with autism or a similar illness, but clearly has struggled all her life with being different. The small town she lives in ridicules her and kids bully her. She tries so hard to fit into her small patch of the world but is continually alienated by...more
Tiffany
A dangerous woman is the fictional story of 32yr old Martha Horgan, a woman with mental disability which lends itself to social awkwardness. The book opens with an uncomfortable scene from Martha's adolescence which stems from her inability to see that not everyone is honest (like she is- to a fault) or has her best intentions in mind.

From the moment I started reading A Dangerous Woman, I did not particularly like Marthe or the characters introduced as her family members, coworkers and love inte...more
Kendra Kettelhut
I guess I could give this 3 stars because I was engaged throughout the whole book. It was an interesting character that this book revolves around, however after reading Songs in an Ordinary Time, the first book I read of her's, I felt that the way she tells a story was not all that different between the two books....even the settings of the towns felt similar, and unfortunately that lessened my opinion of this author. I looked her up just this morning to find the title, Songs in an Ordinary Time...more
Amanda
I much prefered Morris's "Songs in Ordinary Time." Essentially this is a book about a "dangerous" woman who is a woman who just makes her own choices and is a bit odd and different. Nothing too dangerous about that. The protagonist seemed a bit of a hyperbole, though, and I wasn't too interested in her and her choices.
SmarterLilac
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaylia3
There is no happy ending in this novel with Martha Organ, a maybe autistic adult, who gets all-consuming crushes and who literally cannot lie to save her life. Maratha struggles for love and independence, but every child in town knows how to tease her to blind fury and every adult remembers the frightening and pivotal sexual humiliation she would like to forget. The town funeral director both likes and is somewhat like Martha--he's awkward socially and people make fun of him--but his passions ar...more
Marian
Reading this book is stressful and, at least for me, made me feel bad. While the main character Martha Horgan is certainly pitiable and doesn't deserve the terrible treatment she gets, I couldn't help thinking about how I would react if I met someone like her -- a desperately lonely person who gloms onto people, obsessively calls them over and over and over, and is generally terribly unpleasant to be around. Who would go willingly into a friendship with that type of person?

Anyway, the book is in...more
Tracy
A disturbing story. Very well crafted.
Mary
The dedication page says to so and so, "who wanted a love story". Don't be fooled. This is some depressing shiite here. Martha is socially outcast and treated like the village idiot because of her ausberger-like behavior. Her desperate, obsessive attachments to people who show her any affection result in mayhem and despair for everyone involved. She is a thyphoid-Mary of the heart. Despite the dark note of the novel, the story kept pulling me. Good writing and characters that you love to hate.
Carrie
story of a woman, Martha, who lives in a small town in New England. Martha has many issues, anxiety, social problems and almost everyone in the town relates because of a horrible night when she was abused by a gang of boys when she was 15; she is the town's weirdo and most people are not nice to her. the story's time frame is one of about a year. it was written wonderfully; you felt the anxiety and stress of Martha, but you also felt for the people she encountered. Good Read! :-)
Rachel
I get really annoyed with those obsessive female stalker movies where teh beautiful woman can't stop thinking about some pathetic guy and eventually goes batshit crazy, but at least I can say, "Well, that's some sex-starved male screenwriter's fantasy" and try to understand. This book was written by a woman, though, and it's worse than any of those movies. Craptastic.
Sarah Milne
Picked this up at the library as part of my "grab a random book and give it a go" mentality. The best I can say for it is that it was disturbing, which I think is sometimes a good thing in literature. It gets under your skin. But it is also annoying and just kind of tries too hard to shock. I do like that it leaves you with questions and doubt, so that's a positive.
Fishmansj
An insightful portrayal of a young to middle aged woman who is different, who can't seem to fit in, who fixates on people or tasks. Nevertheless, she has feelings of self-worth, desires, & justice which she tries to put into action. Others entangled in her life seem almost as unstable as she is--but no one else murders a creep.
Reva
i read this book like 9 years ago so i don't remember the specifics. seems like i might have also seen the movie...but can't quite remember. i do, however, remember that the ending to this "ok" book was awful. it was like she was done with the book but didn't know how to end it...so she just did. even at 15 i knew it was lame.
BarbaraNathalie
This story takes the reader on the life journey of a young woman who has been tormented by others her entire life. Attacked by male classmates as a teenager, never loved, always in search of a friend, and never learning how to fit in, Martha is a on a downward spiral as the people in her life remain either remote or overbearing.
Stacey B
The author created a very interesting and different main character. I think I would have liked this more if the flawed supporting characters learned from their actions throughout the book and throughout their lives, but I'm not so sure they did. An engaging and quick read, but not without frustration.
Helen
This story made me uncomfortable in parts..made me think about how I..we..treat people who are different. It brought home how one misunderstanding can lead to many more...I'll be more careful before making judgments...I hope. Books that change the way I plan to proceed in life always get a high mark!!
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As the author of several novels, Mary McGarry Morris has received considerable attention from critics and readers, as well as from prestigious awards panels.
Her books are noted for their depictions of mentally and emotionally impaired individuals who have difficulty coping with an inhospitable world.
As New York Times Book Review contributor Alice McDermott put it, “Morris does not devise plots,...more
More about Mary McGarry Morris...
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