Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
I’ll admit from the off that non-fiction is not usually my thing. It has to be something pretty special to gain and keep my attention.
Luckily Member Of The Family did just that, in an almost voyeuristic ‘I’m horrified but can’t look away’ kind of way.
Dianne Lake became one of the acolytes of Charles Manson, probably one of the most infamous cult leaders in criminal history. At the impressionable age of 14 Dianne became one of ‘Charlie’s Girls’, infact she was the youngest member of the group known as the ‘Family’.
Through a haze of drugs, acid trips and coercion Dianne became well and truly embroiled and brain washed by enigmatic Charlie. Ultimately the indoctrination into this way of life led to murder and Dianne finds herself the key witness in the trial against the murderers, helping to see that justice is done and finally releasing herself to live a normal life and put the past behind her.
Right from the off this book grabbed my interest. Written in such an engaging way, it’s as if Dianne is sitting in front of you recounting the events of her life in a down to earth, accessible manner. She had a very dubious upbringing. A creative, often unhappy and unsatisfied with his lot father and a mother who could be both loving and cold and distant with confusing regularity. Through abuse, poverty, adultery and lack of stability, Dianne’s childhood is a troublesome one. When her parents take up the drug induced ‘hippy’ counter culture lifestyle Dianne is taken along for the ride and immersed in her parents ‘creative’ open minded world.
When they eventually become less and less interested in Dianne and her welfare, she finds herself cast adrift and making her own way in the world whilst ultimately longing for her parents to show her some interest, impose some rules in her life and provide her with the stability she craves.
When Dianne eventually drifts into the path of Charles Manson she is showered with attention and adoration by a man who dazzles her and makes her feel special.
The ensuing chaotic lifestyle in the grips of a dangerous man and his controlling ways is gripping and all consuming.
I really enjoyed this book but it feels wrong to say that in some ways. This isn’t fiction, it’s someone’s real life and real horrors. I have a daughter and although she is years younger I couldn’t help but drawn some comparisons and think about how I would feel if his was happening to her.
Utterly compelling and heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, this book is perfect for anyone interested in true crime. Dianne’s memories of her life in the free love era of the swinging sixties is fascinating. The level of detail with which she relays her memories is engaging and thought provoking. I would thoroughly recommend reading Dianne’s story, it is definitely one which needs to be heard.
Special thanks to HarperCollins and Rosie Margesson for the proof copy.
See you soon
Bookish Chat xx