Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tiger Woman My Story



Book Synopsis

The incredible life story that inspired the forthcoming new musical, Tiger Woman Versus The Beast 

Dancer, singer, gang member, cocaine addict and sometime confectionist, Betty May’s autobiography Tiger Woman thrilled and appalled the public when her story first appeared at the end of the roaring twenties.

‘I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement but you will see that I came to it by unexpected ways’

Born into abject squalor in London’s Limehouse area, May used her steely-eyed, striking looks and street nous to become an unlikely bohemian celebrity sensation, a fixture at the CafĂ© Royal, London, marrying four times along the way alongside numerous affairs.

‘I wondered why men would not leave me alone. They were alright at first when they offered to show one life, and then at once they became a nuisance’

She elbowed her way to the top of London’s social scene in a series of outrageous and dramatic fights, flights, marriages and misadventures that also took her to France, Italy, Canada and the USA.

‘I learnt one thing on my honeymoon – to take drugs’

Her most fateful adversary was occultist and self-proclaimed ‘Great Beast’ Aleister Crowley, who intended her to be a sacrificial victim of his Thelemite cult in Sicily, but it was her husband – Oxford undergraduate Raoul Loveday – who died, after conducting a blood sacrifice ritual.

Betty May’s vitality and ferocious charisma enchanted numerous artistic figures including Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer. A heroine like no other, this is her incredible story in her own words, as fresh and extraordinary as the day it was first told.

My Review

When Betty May wrote her autobiography in 1929, her debauched life story shocked society at the time. Now, nearly a century later, the book continues to have the same effect. When I began reading, I was immediately drawn to her narrative, one that was brutally honest and insightful. I could not help but feel sorry for Betty as she described her terrible childhood and the lack of love and attention she was denied by her parents and their circumstances. As the story progressed, I continued to be shocked by the ease into which she fell into a wayward life, partly for the sake of survival and partly for an inner coldness she seemed to possess that helped her survive. 

From the first page to the last, I was fascinated by all that she had experienced. From satanism, her numerous husbands and failed marriages, sexual encounters, prostitution, life and death threats, crimes, and drug addiction, it would be an understatement to say she lived a colorful life. 

It's not a long book, but Betty May definitely had a talent for writing for her escapades are relayed in a vibrant, shocking manner. I have to say, this is one of the most gripping autobiographies I have ever written. It is no surprise that it has endured for nearly a century. A truly fascinating woman and a tale of survival! 
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