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Opal: A Life of Enchantment, Mystery, and…
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Opal: A Life of Enchantment, Mystery, and Madness (edição 2004)

por Kathrine Beck

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706295,459 (3.08)3
In 1920 Americans were captivated by the childhood diary of Opal Whiteley, an enigmatic young woman from a small town in the Northwest. The diary, which chronicled adventures in the forests of Oregon at the age of seven, was hailed as a revelatory portrait of a child's relationship to God and the natural world. It became an overnight publishing sensation and Opal, then twenty-two, became a celebrity. Yet the diary-and Opal-was soon dismissed as a hoax. Today the diary has been rediscovered and continues to touch the hearts of many devotees, but Opal's true identity is hotly contested: Was she a New Age prophet and environmentalist, mad genius, long- lost princess, or flamboyant fraud? Delightfully entertaining and engrossing, Opaltells the story of a beguiling personality and sheds new light on one of the most intriguing literary mysteries of the twentieth century.… (mais)
Membro:SnowcatCradle
Título:Opal: A Life of Enchantment, Mystery, and Madness
Autores:Kathrine Beck
Informação:Penguin Books (2004), Paperback, 288 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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Opal: A Life of Enchantment, Mystery, and Madness por Kathrine Beck

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Opal Whitely grew up in small logging towns in late 19th-century Oregon, gained regional fame as a nature-lover and teacher of young children, and went on to reinvent herself as an orphan, a victim of child abuse, the secret daughter of daughter of Henri, Prince of Orléans, and the child bride of the Prince of Wales. During the course of her adventures she published two books, was kidnapped by a very weird group of rich theosophists, tried to seduce Amelia Earhart's husband, and had a steamy sex scandal with a swami who turned out to be a fellow con-artist.

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2014/07/opal-life-of-enchantment-mystery-and.html ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Jul 8, 2014 |
This is a mixed bag. It’s a fascinating story, that I knew nothing of, and while this seems to be one of the only critical examinations you’ll find of the story it’s definitely flawed.

There seems to be a fair amount of research made into the facts, but many of them aren’t backed up with sources and it’s not impartial, although I don’t think it’s totally unfair either. The writer seems to be trying hard to counteract all the woo out there and does a pretty good job.

I really could use better editing, but I’m starting to think that’s just how non-fiction is now. Thoughts and events repeat and are strewn about in a strange order that make it a little hard to follow at times.

I still enjoyed quite a bit and it’s worth reading if you’re interested in the subject. ( )
  bongo_x | Jul 4, 2013 |
In 1920, The Story of Opal was published, supposedly the childhood diary of Opal Whitely, who'd grown up in a small town in Oregon. She describes nature and animals in a way people either find endearing or twee (I'm in the latter group) and it became a best seller. It was soon dismissed as a hoax, written by Opal as an adult and tailored to sell to readers who were looking for a return to childhood innocence in the wake of WWI. In the 70s, Ms. published some of the diary in the "Stories for Free Children" section and it found a new audience. It's been rediscovered by New Age people and poetic environmentalists, and interest in Opal continues. This book attempts to discover the truth about Opal, and to tell what became of her later.

The diary contained hints that she was related to European royalty. For the rest of her life she insisted this was true. She got further and further from reality, and ended her life in a British asylum. From this account, it sounds as though she was schizophrenic.

It has a lively style that I enjoyed and involves many odd people (LA faith healers, New England theosophists, New Age writers). I really enjoyed this. ( )
  piemouth | Mar 28, 2011 |
As a biography, "Opal" doesn't meet scholarly standards, and the writing isn't really top-notch. Yet Opal Whitely herself was a fascinating character and continues to be controversial. Born in 1897, Opal grew up in a logging camp in Oregon. She claimed her real parents were members of the d'Orleans family, pretenders to the French crown. Her diary, which she claimed to have written as a child, was a sensation when published in 1920, then pronounced a hoax. After republication in 1976 the diary, with its back-to-nature spirituality, gained new fans, some of whom are passionate about its authenticity.

Beck believes the diary to have been a literary hoax, and Opal to have been mentally ill. (Opal entered a mental hospital in 1948 and lived there until her death in 1992, and she had had "breakdowns" and exhibited erratic behavior earlier in life.) What Beck doesn't explore is the character of Opal's illness and how it may have affected her culpability in perpetrating a literary hoax. Was she deliberate and calculating, delusional, or a bit of both? Sometimes Beck just about blames Opal for being sick.

"Opal" is an interesting read but not worth seeking out unless you have a special interest in Opal herself or literary hoaxes. ( )
  IreneF | Oct 6, 2008 |
(#25 in the 2006 Book Challenge)
Hoo boy, this was something else. Opal Whiteley made a big but brief literary splash in 1920, when she published what she claimed was her childhood diary. She grew up in a logging town in Oregon, and the diary is 1. twee to beat the band, 2. despite the sugar overload, very complex and cohesive if in fact written by a young child, and 3. what we would now call consider New Age-y -- there's lots of tree spirits and star voices and such. This is a web site that has a lot of the diary posted, and as far as I can tell, takes it at face value.
http://intersect.uoregon.edu/opal/default.html
This book was an attempt at tracing Opal's life, mostly relying on letters to, from and about Opal. Almost immediately after it was published, the diary's authenticity was questioned. On top of all this, Opal, who had always been quirky, entered a long and drastic decline into mental illness. Even so, she managed to convince a great number of reputable people that she was in fact the orphaned daughter of European royalty who was hidden away in a logging town. The whole thing is fascinating, so much so that I didn't notice too much that the writing was a little uneven and clumsy. I got the sense that the author was just overwhelmed by the amount of material, which is more than understandable. I was agog, I tell you. I do think the author made every attempt to be compassionate toward a subject who was obviously suffering from a serious condition, but still, given the chain of events it often felt like one of those things where you were horrified yet couldn't turn away. For the B-T crowd, Opal was very involved with Christian Endeavor as a teen, so I especially enjoyed learning more about the organization.

Grade: B+ on the book as it was written, A+ in the "truth is stranger than fiction" column.
Recommended: To people interested in this period in American history, and fans of bizarre tales in general. ( )
  delphica | Jun 30, 2006 |
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In 1920 Americans were captivated by the childhood diary of Opal Whiteley, an enigmatic young woman from a small town in the Northwest. The diary, which chronicled adventures in the forests of Oregon at the age of seven, was hailed as a revelatory portrait of a child's relationship to God and the natural world. It became an overnight publishing sensation and Opal, then twenty-two, became a celebrity. Yet the diary-and Opal-was soon dismissed as a hoax. Today the diary has been rediscovered and continues to touch the hearts of many devotees, but Opal's true identity is hotly contested: Was she a New Age prophet and environmentalist, mad genius, long- lost princess, or flamboyant fraud? Delightfully entertaining and engrossing, Opaltells the story of a beguiling personality and sheds new light on one of the most intriguing literary mysteries of the twentieth century.

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