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Long Black Veil

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3.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,839 ratings  ·  464 reviews
Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2017

For fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott, a novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past, from the New York Times bestselling author of She's Not There

On a warm August night in 1980, six college students sneak into the dilapidated ruins of Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, looking fo
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published April 11th 2017)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  1,839 ratings  ·  464 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 It is 1980, Casey, an obese young man who never thought he would find someone to love him, and Wailer, a pink haired young lady were just married the night before. With their college friends, an older teacher and a young boy, the brother of one, they decode to visit an abandoned penitentiary. Bad, bad decision as they will find themselves locked in this creepy place, one will go missing, and their lives will be irrevocably changed. Years later, now in their fifties, another young woman finds ...more
Edward Lorn
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're here because of my bookshelf tour and wondering why I said this book has a poor representation of a trans woman in it, read the comment stream after the review for more info, thanks.

3.5 stars rounded up.

I suppose with the world heading in the direction that it's headed, books like this will become the norm: overly PC books that try their damnedest not to piss anyone off. The problem I see with novels like Long Black Veil is author intrusion. When you move forward with a piece of art (m
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Esil
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars. There were a couple of things wrong with Long Black Veil, but I really liked the originality of the characters. In 1980, a group of university friends go into an abandoned jail, and one of them disappears. 35 years later the body is found, and the group's history gets stirred up again. The story moves back and forth in time, and it moves from one point of view to another. My first complaint is that it takes a few chapters to figure out who's who. My second complaint is that the plot i ...more
Norma
Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
LONG BLACK VEIL by JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN immediately intrigued me and then quickly confused me. It took me a little while to get into this book and then I'm not even sure if I was ever totally engaged in what I was reading.

I never felt like I wanted to DNF it and I am glad that I read it but I'm not exactly sure how I really feel about it now that I'm done. There were definitely some good parts and some not so good. I liked the message and the author was very insightful with one aspect of the s
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Sara
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I just don't know what to do with this book. To be fair I went into it thinking it was, as advertised in all the library catalogs, a thriller about some sort of covered up crime and a bunch of college kids exploring a deserted old prison. When I have certain expectations of a book and it then turns out to be something entirely different it throws me and definitely affects my opinion. So take that for what its worth. I opened the book thinking I was about to get into kind of a literary "let's inv ...more
Wendy
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long Black Veil, by Jennifer Finney Boylan, is a intriguing read!
There are many characters and alot going on. Once I got everyone and everything figured out the story flowed nicely.

A group of college friends, one younger brother and a teacher decide to tour Philadelphia's notorious and abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. They become eerily locked in and one of the group ends up missing.

Twenty years later a skull and body is discovered hidden in the walls. A murderer was amongst the group on th
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Susanne  Strong
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
4 Stars.

Long Black Veil is a unique character study of six college friends, brought together 20 years after a pivotal incident in their lives tore them apart.

On a critical night, 20 years ago, six friends take a trip to an abandon prison in Philadelphia. One of them disappears inside. Thereafter, the remaining friends try to go on with their lives, most of them scattering, leaving each other behind. The memories of each other and that night however, linger forever. Memories however, aren’t the
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Julie Ehlers
I finished Long Black Veil almost a month ago and am still a bit flummoxed about how to rate and review it. This book started off so well—intriguing and atmospheric, with a central dilemma that I'd never seen used in a novel before. I know others have complained that there were a lot of characters to keep track of, but I thought they were very well drawn and it didn't take long for me to get them all straight. I genuinely loved hearing about how all of their lives turned out as they grew up and ...more
Sarah Joint
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intelligently written, dark, and fascinating. It features a very large cast of characters, and at about 25% in I almost put it down and started something else, confused about who was who. I'm really glad I didn't, as it becomes much clearer as the book goes on. This is one of those books that is best enjoyed going in blind. I'm going to be very careful not to include any spoilers in this review, but it's going to be a short one because they're major plot points. It can get a bit dark and depress ...more
Bren
And so success had come to her, as it comes to so many people, not by doing the things she loved, which she did ineptly, But by doing the things she hated, that at which she was a genius.

Long Black Veil
by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Well it is the end of the first month of 2021 and I have already DNFED three books this year! Am I off to a roaring start or what?

To be honest, Long Black Veil, is not a bad book. I read enough of it to give it a rating. But no way is it the book for me.

A group of kids de
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Bob/Sally
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqa, transgender
I first encountered Jennifer Finney Boylan a number of years ago through her memoir, I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted. It remains one of the most unique books I have ever read, a real-life ghost story that weaves a lighthearted paranormal investigation of Boylan's haunted family home with a more somber exploration of gender identity/expression.

With Long Black Veil, Boylan makes a long-awaited return to adult fiction, her first such foray since her humorous novels of the early 90s. Lik
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Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was a bit of a different story than I expected it to be only because I don't tend to read book summaries very carefully. I went into this book expecting a straight forward mystery thriller but I think that this book really a bit different. I didn't really think that the mystery was really the main driving point of the book instead the focus was on the characters and how their lives have changed sin
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Sheila
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars--I really liked it.

The descriptive copy for this book makes it sound like a mystery. It's not, really. In fact, there's not much plot at all. I'm going to talk about what the book IS about, and it might be considered a spoiler--though, since as I said, the plot is sparse, I personally don't think it's really a spoiler. But you've been warned!

This book is a character study about being trans. It's about Judith, a trans woman, and her experiences, and how she's changed and hasn't changed th
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Cheryl
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Literary fiction, not a murder mystery. And definitely not at all like Donna Tartt's The Secret History. It's mainly a character study about a transgender woman. The murder plot is only there to bring about conflict in her current life. The writing style starts out decent, but then deteriorates as the story progresses. None of the characters are well-developed, but because Judith is the main focus she's a bit more fleshed-out. This book had alot of potential, but left me disappointed. ...more
catherine ♡
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I'm really not sure what to think. This was the first book in my life that made me realize the extreme difference between enjoyment and engagement. The book was definitely a page turner, and I read it in quickly in two hours, but the experience itself really wasn't that enjoyable.

Admittedly I found myself confused by the overwhelming amount of secondary characters, feeling detached from everyone except Judith, a transgender woman who is struggling between burying the past (which she had done yea
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Quirkyreader
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me this book was a big page turner. I kept wanting to read it, but work got in the way.

This story has an unexpected twist that you never see coming.

The arts and food are main parts of the plot. So keep your eyes open to that. Saying anymore would spoil this exciting story.
Andra
... I really don't know how I feel about this one ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
"That the struggle to find a connection between the people we have been and the people we become is not some crazy drama unique to people like me. It’s all of us.”

We kill off parts of ourselves throughout our lives, shedding bits and pieces that no longer make sense. There still remains a core that holds everyone we have every been, from that young curious child to the confused teen and so on. In that sense, we aren’t much different from the char
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Susan Crowe
I won an ARC of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads. Thank you Penguin Random House/Crown Publishing and Jennifer Finney Boylan.
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!
Wow! i really can't recall ever reading anything like it. I've never been one of those people who "could not put this book down". Because i can. i can be on the last page of a murder mystery, about to find out who the killer is and i can put the book down. But I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN! If life hadn't gotten in the way, i would have read it
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Julie
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is a 2017 Crown publication.

Lithub gave this book a fair amount of ad coverage a few weeks back, and I could swear someone, somewhere along the way, compared this book to Donna Tartt’s ‘The Secret History’. Well, that was all the prodding I needed. I checked it out of the library ASAP.

Well, no offense to the author or this story, but it’s not a modern day ‘Secret History’, and once again a categorization misstep by the publishers will most likely hurt
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Jessica Woodbury
I suspect I am not the only person who is a sucker for books that claim to be readalikes for The Secret History. This one said it was for fans of Donna Tartt and Megan Abbott and they basically forced me to hand over my money and purchase it immediately. But the thing that normally happens is I finish the book and I am angry because it is not The Secret History, not even close, and I feel manipulated. Long Black Veil is not The Secret History, and yet I do not feel like they were entirely off th ...more
Jeanette
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Spots are ok, but it was 75% slog for me to get through these people and their selective or responsive traumas. Not any enjoyment or entertainment factors in this at all for me. Who am I? What's it all about, Alfie- those type of works need to be snappy, clever, sharp with more joy capacity than this one to rate it 3. DNF, but at 75% I rated my enjoyment and interest plus the writing style. No go for me. And I did understand what Quinlan's dilemma was. How could I not with the current trends of ...more
Cindy
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book several times (confused due to a big cast of characters) and wanted to put on my DNF shelf but since I won it from LibraryThing I thought I had better finish and review. Long Black Veil was page turner! The story begins with 6 students, 1 teacher, and 1 little boy sneaking into an dilapidated, run down, closed state penitentiary. Of course it's dark and scary and of course they get locked inside. They try to find a way out, get separated and a tragedy occurs. Thirty years lat ...more
Irene
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The above is the description taken from Goodreads.
However as fitting as that is, it is not the description from the cover, and I feel a bit let down. I was expecting this book to be more of a thriller, and I guess I was expecting it to be.... thrilling. I suppose it is more a mystery, and it's aftermath. When the reason for Wailer's disappearance was revealed I was let down again, and even more so at the ridiculous ending.
I received a complimentary copy for review
...more
Melissa
This falls apart rather spectacularly at the end, but either because it was so fabulous up until then or hell, just as points for how amazingly preposterous it all gets, this is going to get a deadly from me. One of those rare books that I read really quickly because I adored it but then needed to hold off on finishing because I didn't want it to end. ...more
rachel
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, 2017
If you've ever heard Jennifer Finney Boylan speak at length (or watched her take on the unenviable work of shepherding Caitlyn Jenner out of the white and wealthy worldview bubble, as a trans advocate on I Am Cait) then you have a good idea what to expect when you pick up this book. She is one of those writers who writes exactly as she speaks, and her voice comes through very strongly here.

I'd like to start this review by stating that I admire and am grateful for Jennifer's work as she shares a
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Sam Sattler
Long Black Veil is a difficult novel to get into because the author immediately introduces about eight characters known only by their first names – and since several of the first names are non-gender-specific nicknames, it is difficult even to be certain at first of the sex of some of the characters. I would suggest jotting down a note or two for each character as they are introduced as a way of maybe easing yourself into the story.

The story itself is about a group of misfits who become friends
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Blair
Mar 20, 2017 marked it as dnf-arcs  ·  review of another edition
Abandoned at 20%. Initially intriguing, this past-and-present mystery has, at this point, sagged into a mess of weird characters who aren't so much unlikeable as incomprehensible. I've long thought there's a subset of the 'books compared to The Secret History' minigenre that consists of American novels in which people behave so little like any human I've ever met that they more closely resemble aliens. Examples include The Whole World, Red Leaves and, slightly more tenuously (since it's not a ca ...more
Danielle N
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Long Black Veil is rather unique in what it brings to the table. What essentially begins a mystery centered around the loss of a friend develops into a detailed exploration of the lives of Judith and 4 other individuals forever connected by their past.

“You carry the past with you. Even if there’s a before, and an after, in your life. It’s still the same life. The trick is to build a bridge between that and what comes later.”

20 years ago Judith and 5 other college friends decided to visit Eastern
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Jennifer Finney Boylan is a widely praised author and professor.

Edward Albee summed up her oeuvre in 1988: -- "Boylan observes carefully, and with love. [Her] levitating wit is wisely tethered to a humane concern…. I often broke into laughter, and was now and again, struck with wonder."

Jenny's memoir, She's Not There, published by Broadway Books in 2003, was one of the first bestselling works by a
...more

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“I have a different theory, which is even more harebrained. It goes like this: Maybe we should all just love one another, even if we don't completely understand the things that people bear in their dark, strange hearts, even if the stars that other men and women are following seem invisible to us. If we make ourselves open to the humanity of others first, maybe understanding will follow. An incomprehensible theory of the universe isn't necessary if your only ambition is to embrace another soul. What you need, maybe all you need, in fact, is the willingness to love.” 6 likes
“Maybe we should just love one another, even if we don't completely understand the things that people bear in their dark, strange hearts, even if the stars that other men and women are following seem invisible to us. If we make ourselves open to the humanity of others first, maybe understanding will follow. An incomprehensible theory of the universal isn't necessary if your only ambition is to embrace another soul. What you need, maybe all you need, in fact, is the willingness to love.” 3 likes
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