One of the things I like to do in my somewhat limited leisure time is read. I tend to alternate between well-written meaningful books and those that are definitely designed for escapism. My most recent read, The Devil in the Junior League is of the latter category.
The premise of the book is that one of the well-respected members of the junior league in a fictional Texas town finds herself in need of an attorney when her husband leaves her and takes her money with him. The only attorney in town whom she trusts to track down her errant husband agrees to help on one condition, that she get his wife admitted to the league. The plot evolves as she works to get his wife league-ready and discovers that perhaps the acceptance of her fellow league members is not as important as it once seemed.
I was hesitant to purchase this book (and, for the record, I did not purchase it; I borrowed it from a friend, really!) not because of its chick lit nature but because I am, myself, a card-carrying junior league member. In fact, I'm on the Board of Directors of my local league this year.
Prior to the book's publication this summer, the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) put out the following statement:
Neither AJLI nor any League was consulted about or involved with the writing
or publication of this work of fiction. The use of the Junior League name in
the title and throughout the book has not been authorized by AJLI, which
owns the trademark.AJLI and the Junior Leagues are careful to protect our
trademark, which represents the goodwill and brand associated with the
outstanding contributions that 293 Leagues have made to build women’s
volunteer leadership and improve communities for over 105 years. Because the
usage of the name Junior League is unauthorized, we have no involvement with
promoting the book and do not endorse it or comment upon its content.
Why would the AJLI get so worked up about this book? I'm certain it's because of the portrayal of league members as a group of women who have nothing better to do but to get together and criticize both non-members and members alike while taking a bit of time to figure out ways to spend their rich husbands' money on charitable endeavors. Oh, and they evidently sleep with each others' husbands as well.
This differs significantly from my own league experience. I'll admit I was drawn to the league after moving to a new town and wanting to find some women who had similar interests. The volunteerism was a positive side note. However, as I work with other members on our fundraisers and see the results of our community projects such as helping families with children in the NICU, working with young women who have been in foster care as they transition to adult life, and setting up a volunteer program for our local child abuse prevention agency, I'm struck by how much the reality differs from the fictional portrayal.
So, my ultimate thoughts on this book? As is common with this genre, there's a lot of exaggeration. However, it's a fun, fast-paced read that I really enjoyed. Just don't judge all junior league members by this cover!