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Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love
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Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Peninsula of Lies is a nonfiction mystery, set in haunting locales and peopled with fascinating characters, that unwraps the enigma of a woman named Dawn Langley Simmons, a British writer who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1960s and became the focus of one of the most unusual sexual scandals of the last century.

Born in England sometime before World War II
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ebook, 288 pages
Published June 15th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published March 2nd 2004)
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Merredith
Jul 28, 2010 Merredith rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, really
This is a book where a writer, on the strength of being contacted by a woman about a family heirloom antique months before, randomly decides to attend that woman's funeral and then investigate her life and write a book about it. Surprisingly, her family, friends, and associates, take this tenuous association as a real reason to spill everything in her life to him. This woman, Dawn, began life as a man, Gordon, and transistioned in the 1960s. I didn’t like the style of writing. It made everything ...more
Caitlin
I really liked Edward Ball's other two books, Slaves in the Family and The Sweet Hell Inside, but this one falls into the just okay category.

Gordon/Dawn is an interesting enough character, but ultimately not very likeable. S/he is in most ways a cipher and remains a cipher throughout the book - missing from the story, in a very real sense. This is much less a book about his/her life and much more a book about the author trying to figure out the true gender of his subject. Was Gordon/Dawn interse
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MB
May 20, 2009 MB rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of Middlesex by Geoffrey Eugenedes
Intriguing, May 21, 2008


Gordon/Dawn was a fascinating character and this book is intriguing reading. Just who was Dawn? How much of her story was true and how much fiction? What is sex? What is gender? Like Middlesex this book is mind-expanding.

Other reviews have explained the book itself, so I won't try to do so.

But for those readers who'd like to find out more about Dawn, read "Me Pappoose Sitter" written by Dawn as Gordon, then read "She Crab Soup" written as Dawn. Both are absolutely hila
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Ginny


I have been hearing about Gordon Langley/Dawn Langley Simmons my entire life. My mom was from Charleston and I remember vividly the tales of the charming english man who tried to take Charleston by storm socially. He did pretty well until he became a she and then married a black man. This was unheard of in the 1960's in Charleston, SC. As my mother told it and is confirmed by the book, Dawn all of a sudden appeared pregnant in maternity clothes on the streets and then was seen pushing a baby car
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Seoda
A fascinating book, especially for anyone who has ever lived in Charleston. Although the story may seem "sensational", this is the tale of an individual participating in what could be considered very unremarkable things-- marriage, home ownership, parenthood. However, every rule of convention is broken in these pursuits, and the result is a fascinating story that keeps you guessing until the end.
Is your identity based on what you believe to be true-- what you tell other people and yourself? Or
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Lizzie
Gordon Hall came to the US from England, became a biographer, then inherited a fortune from an old lady he’d befriended that allowed him to make a new start in Charleston SC. There, he became Dawn Langley Hall, supposedly raised by Vita Sackville-West. She said the surgery was to correct a defect rather than a sex change. She married a blue-collar black man, which didn’t go down well with the Charleston folks, then announced she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby. Did she? This is both the st ...more
Heather
Very engaged in this story especially having recently moved to Charleston. I read it in 1 day but have to say Bell could have cut out 100 or so pages of redundant/repeated facts (I just skimmed those paragraphs). My 1st E Bell book so I'm not sure if his others are written similarly.
Michelle
"the author doesn't create the most streamlined story and jumps around a bit, causing a little bit of a jumble puzzle in the process and one is left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the day. regardless of that, it is a bizarre tale that keeps you turning the pages.
Danette
Disappointing. From the description, I thought it would be much more intriguing. But, it was a chore to power through. Although, I kept going because I wanted to get to the truth, which came out in the last 10 pages - the most interesting part of the book.
Marilou
Actually never finished it and probably won't. Ultimately I stopped caring about this very odd person. I love tranny stories, but this one didn't quite keep my interest.
Carol Johnson
A train wreck of a life. It was painful to read but I wanted to finish it. I don't recommend it. I felt very badly for Natasha, the daughter....very disturbing!
Catherine
I read this book over four years ago, but I do remember that I was intrigued throughout as the mystery unfolded.
Kristen
While not the very best written book, it is fascinating and well researched. You have to admire the moxy Dawn had.
Wendi Zwaduk
Very interesting read. Opened my eyes to what people will believe. Writing is crisp and flows well.
Emily
A fun reminder of Charleston's history and interesting biography but not what I expected.
Tracy Nelson
Painfully drab. Couldn't get into it.
Kimberly
Crazy but true story about Charleston
Meredith
Meredith marked it as to-read
Apr 03, 2015
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Mar 19, 2015
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Edward Ball was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1958, grew up in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. He finished high school in New Orleans and attended Brown University, graduating in 1982 with a B.A. in Semiotics.

He received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1984, and afterwards moved to New York City, where he worked as a freelance art critic, writing about film, art, arc
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More about Edward Ball...
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