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When a friend who taught creative writing at a maximum-security prison asked Bridget Kinsella to read the work of one of his best students, she readily agreed. As a publishing professional, Kinsella was used to getting manuscripts from all sorts of sources. Who knows? she told herself. Maybe I can help this talented inmate get his work published. She had no idea that her c When a friend who taught creative writing at a maximum-security prison asked Bridget Kinsella to read the work of one of his best students, she readily agreed. As a publishing professional, Kinsella was used to getting manuscripts from all sorts of sources. Who knows? she told herself. Maybe I can help this talented inmate get his work published. She had no idea that her correspondence with a convicted murderer serving life without parole would lead to a relationship that would change her life forever. Why in the world would anyone get involved with a prison inmate? In this beautifully written, brutally honest memoir, Kinsella shares how she stumbled into a relationship with a lifer and became part of a sorority she never thought she’d join. Over the course of three years, she spends time with and ultimately befriends the wives, girlfriends, and mothers of some inmates at Pelican Bay. On this unexpected journey, she learns of the hurdles, heartbreaks, and hopes they have for their relationships as she experiences a connection with someone who helps heal her own wounds. As the United States continues to incarcerate convicted criminals for increasingly long periods of time, our prison rolls swell to unprecedented levels—more than two million today—as does the number of women and children whose lives are thrown into limbo and who live for their next “visiting time.” Through the lens of her own unlikely experience, Kinsella examines those impacted by crime and punishment with keen observation, candor, and compassion. From the Hardcover edition.


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When a friend who taught creative writing at a maximum-security prison asked Bridget Kinsella to read the work of one of his best students, she readily agreed. As a publishing professional, Kinsella was used to getting manuscripts from all sorts of sources. Who knows? she told herself. Maybe I can help this talented inmate get his work published. She had no idea that her c When a friend who taught creative writing at a maximum-security prison asked Bridget Kinsella to read the work of one of his best students, she readily agreed. As a publishing professional, Kinsella was used to getting manuscripts from all sorts of sources. Who knows? she told herself. Maybe I can help this talented inmate get his work published. She had no idea that her correspondence with a convicted murderer serving life without parole would lead to a relationship that would change her life forever. Why in the world would anyone get involved with a prison inmate? In this beautifully written, brutally honest memoir, Kinsella shares how she stumbled into a relationship with a lifer and became part of a sorority she never thought she’d join. Over the course of three years, she spends time with and ultimately befriends the wives, girlfriends, and mothers of some inmates at Pelican Bay. On this unexpected journey, she learns of the hurdles, heartbreaks, and hopes they have for their relationships as she experiences a connection with someone who helps heal her own wounds. As the United States continues to incarcerate convicted criminals for increasingly long periods of time, our prison rolls swell to unprecedented levels—more than two million today—as does the number of women and children whose lives are thrown into limbo and who live for their next “visiting time.” Through the lens of her own unlikely experience, Kinsella examines those impacted by crime and punishment with keen observation, candor, and compassion. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Visiting Life: Women Doing Time on the Outside

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I was looking forward to this book, as I'm fascinated with stories about prison and prisoners, and thought this would examine yet another level. Saying that I wound up disappointed is a vast understatement. Bridget Kinsella, an upper-middle class journalist and literary agent, became romantically involved with a Pelican Bay inmate after her marriage broke up. (Pelican Bay, for those of you not familiar with it, is a maximum-security prison in the California Bay Area, and is frequently said to be I was looking forward to this book, as I'm fascinated with stories about prison and prisoners, and thought this would examine yet another level. Saying that I wound up disappointed is a vast understatement. Bridget Kinsella, an upper-middle class journalist and literary agent, became romantically involved with a Pelican Bay inmate after her marriage broke up. (Pelican Bay, for those of you not familiar with it, is a maximum-security prison in the California Bay Area, and is frequently said to be one of the most brutal prisons in the United States.) In addition to examining her own relationship, Kinsella also writes about the many women she met whose partners were in prison. Reading this book was like being on the phone for hours with The Friend You Hate. You know the one I'm talking about -- you've known her for years, but you don't like her much even though she's part of your social circle. Chances are good that she calls you up a lot, probably at inappropriate hours, whining and carrying on either about how awful her boyfriend is, how awful her last date was, or how awful it is that no man wants to go out with her despite the fact that she's FABulous. You spend a lot of time rolling your eyes while making that "blah blah blah" motion with your hand. Kinsella, despite the fact that she rarely stops telling us how admirable she is, comes across as a not-very-intelligent, self-absorbed loon. To begin with, she shows as little self-awareness as any memoirist I can remember. And to makes matters worse, she shows nearly no insight about the women who, like her, love men in prison -- for example, although she notes in passing that the majority of these women were abused either as children or adults or both, she never seems to make any connection between their histories and their involvement with men unavailable to them. To the contrary, she spends much of the book dithering through rose-colored glasses about how bee-you-ti-full it is that she and these women have finally found love. Um, what? All this would probably be tolerable if Kinsella were an especially good writer, but her prose never rises above the workmanlike. Don't bother with this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This book surprised me. It catches you with the idea of "how could a middle class, well educated and nice looking woman end up falling for a man in prison?" This memoir is written by a woman who keeps asking herself that question. How could she be one of "those" women? This motivates her to try to understand the people whose lives are connected to people doing life in prison. She is honest about her own issues and is compassionate toward women who have been stereotyped as desperate or pathetic e This book surprised me. It catches you with the idea of "how could a middle class, well educated and nice looking woman end up falling for a man in prison?" This memoir is written by a woman who keeps asking herself that question. How could she be one of "those" women? This motivates her to try to understand the people whose lives are connected to people doing life in prison. She is honest about her own issues and is compassionate toward women who have been stereotyped as desperate or pathetic etc. A great story of the idea that our "angels" show up in all sorts of unexpected places. One thing to note is that she still continues to see herself as "not one of them" (those women) and keeps pointing out how she doesn't "need" to be there (because of how she looks, is educated etc.) Also, it is important to suspend reality with the prisoner she grows close to because he is able to create this ideal relationship (in his description if not his situation) and say exactly what she wants to hear or needs to hear. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just that their relationship seems like it never leaves the "honeymoon" phase because they never really have to test it in the day to day way that other people do. It can stay fixed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Bridget Kinsella's memoir took me to a place I'd never been and to people I'd probably never meet. And she surprised herself, as well, by becoming involved with a life-term prisoner and with others in the prison culture. Bridget grew up in New Jersey in a loving Italian-Irish family, wrote interviews for Publishers Weekly, and lived a normal middle-class life until her marriage broke up in a shocking, shattering way. Besides the marriage breakup, she was devastated in knowing that, approaching f Bridget Kinsella's memoir took me to a place I'd never been and to people I'd probably never meet. And she surprised herself, as well, by becoming involved with a life-term prisoner and with others in the prison culture. Bridget grew up in New Jersey in a loving Italian-Irish family, wrote interviews for Publishers Weekly, and lived a normal middle-class life until her marriage broke up in a shocking, shattering way. Besides the marriage breakup, she was devastated in knowing that, approaching forty, she'd probably never have children of her own. She needed a change-- and change she got! Bridget moved to the west coast-- as far away from family and especially other people's children, as she could go. She tried out a new career-- as literary agent. Someone steered her to a young novelist with an amazing literary style, but he was serving a life term at Pelican Bay prison in Crescent City, CA. Bridget figured she had nothing to lose and went to meet the young man-- Rory Mehan-- in prison. She had promised her brother she wouldn't fall in love with a prisoner, but she couldn't keep the promise. Bridget and Rory were both wounded souls, and their visits and letters proved healing to each other. To perhaps rationalize her intentions and protect her secret love affair from friends and family, Bidget developed a project for herself-- interviewing and writing about other women who visited men in prison. The chapters, named for several women she met at Pelican Bay, were enlightening in their basic similarities. Most, if not all of these women, had married their prisoner-husbands after the men were imprisoned. It was surprising how special these men appeared to their wives and how little the women seemed to care about the crimes their husbands had committed to land in prison. I had to wonder if these men were excessively manipulative or had just become such good readers of other people's souls while locked up behind bars. (Bridget's Rory was superbly gifted in expressing feelings of love and caring to her and most intuitive in reading her mind.) Perhaps the words of one woman sum up the attraction to these prisoners: "Men doing time in prison, you have 100 per cent of their focus and you don't get that in the outside world." Even though I thought the book bogged down a bit in the middle, with too much repetition about the love and caring Bridget and Rory held for each other, I was nevertheless captivated and couldn't help wondering how this "fantasy love affair" would end and how Bridget would resolve her empty feelings about remaining childless. The ending made sense, in probably the only way it could, still remaining uplifting with the beautiful thought that the love they had for each other could never be taken away. "Where there's love, there's life," is what I believe Bridget etched on the inside of her re-created wedding ring she wore for Rory.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyssa

    This book was not what I expected. I had hoped for a thorough exploration of women who choose to be in relationships with inmates. Instead, a bulk of the book was the author's own story of falling in love with a "lifer" in Pelican Bay prison in Crescent City, CA. The primary focus on her story would have been acceptable to me if she was a good writer, but she is horrible! The prose is so unbelievably cheesy that I am shocked it got published. Even worse, she includes love letters from her boyfri This book was not what I expected. I had hoped for a thorough exploration of women who choose to be in relationships with inmates. Instead, a bulk of the book was the author's own story of falling in love with a "lifer" in Pelican Bay prison in Crescent City, CA. The primary focus on her story would have been acceptable to me if she was a good writer, but she is horrible! The prose is so unbelievably cheesy that I am shocked it got published. Even worse, she includes love letters from her boyfriend behind bars and he makes way too many references to "the angels" who brought them together. These two would be better suited as Hallmark card writers. What is also shocking is the author's lack of insight about herself. She is pushing 40, fresh from a divorce (after discovering her husband is gay), and starting to realize that she may never remarry and have kids. Instead of doing something that might be helpful, like go to therapy and explore her options, she instead focuses all of her energy on a man who will never be available to her. She does go out on a few dates as her prison romance unfolds, but quickly rejects potential suitors. It was hard to be a witness to the author's unconventional and potentially destructive choice. She tries the reader to be empathetic and understanding, but it was impossible to do so for me. She does interview of a few of the women she meets on visiting days and that part of the book is interesting, but so brief that it warrants only one star.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    with some more hard-line journalism/less self-involvement, this book could have been really amazing. as it is, it's still pretty interesting, & a page-turner, with a surprising (if vague) ending. the part where she goes to chowchilla womens' facility with the children whose mothers are incarcerated was really moving, & if the whole book was like that it would have been super. honestly, i was shocked at the insensitivity she showed towards her incarcerated love. like, when they first kiss, she say with some more hard-line journalism/less self-involvement, this book could have been really amazing. as it is, it's still pretty interesting, & a page-turner, with a surprising (if vague) ending. the part where she goes to chowchilla womens' facility with the children whose mothers are incarcerated was really moving, & if the whole book was like that it would have been super. honestly, i was shocked at the insensitivity she showed towards her incarcerated love. like, when they first kiss, she says something like, "well, i guess i'll kiss you--i haven't been kissed in so long." i was like, really? you really said that to a life-without-parole-er who'd been down for 11 years? ouch. i'd have been pissed if i were him, but he takes it on the chin and kisses her anyway. but, all in all, it's pretty good and a fairly worthwhile read. i just wish the author looked more at the bigger picture of why the prison-industrial complex is so fucked, & why women love men who are incarcerated--i think these are two totally interesting subjects that are basically glossed over (despite the fact that the latter is allegedly the focus of the book).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cate

    True story about a woman who gets involved with a man serving a life sentence. I wanted to like it -- crime, weird romance, what were you thinking? -- but it just didn't hold together. There wasn't enough background about the guy to make the love story believable; she was too giddy in love with him and just assumes the reader will be too. Some of his love letters are included, and they're awkward to read. She alternates chapters between her story and those of other women she meets in the prison True story about a woman who gets involved with a man serving a life sentence. I wanted to like it -- crime, weird romance, what were you thinking? -- but it just didn't hold together. There wasn't enough background about the guy to make the love story believable; she was too giddy in love with him and just assumes the reader will be too. Some of his love letters are included, and they're awkward to read. She alternates chapters between her story and those of other women she meets in the prison visiting rooms. Their stories were interesting, but I had the sense that she was using them. Maybe as a way to maintain distance, like she's there as a journalist, not just another girlfriend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    I liked the cover and title of Visiting Life. The stories about the women and how they came to be with men facing life in prison were very interesting. Bridget Kinsella's personal story interested me less. While I empathize with her situation, she seem very unrealistic in her expectations. She is healthy, smart, well-educated, and blessed with a great career and loving family but continues to lament her situation. I hope her work with the children of convicts is rewarding and fills the void in h I liked the cover and title of Visiting Life. The stories about the women and how they came to be with men facing life in prison were very interesting. Bridget Kinsella's personal story interested me less. While I empathize with her situation, she seem very unrealistic in her expectations. She is healthy, smart, well-educated, and blessed with a great career and loving family but continues to lament her situation. I hope her work with the children of convicts is rewarding and fills the void in her life. Kinsella left her work with Rory unfinished - I would have appreciated more information on her original goal.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Try and judge the countless women who fall in love and choose to partner with incarcerated men. Everything you think you know about these women is uninformed. If you wish to open your mind and learn about the strength, resilience, and compassion of these women, pick this book up. Kinsella is not the most adept writer, but she narrates with enough emotion and detail to take you where she has been.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen Earp

    When I saw this book on the shelf in the library, I felt a physical pull. Although our beginnings and endings were different, the concept of Bridget as a middle class woman, a professional, visiting someone in prison and feeling so out of place spoke into my memories. I was that, at one point in my life. Reading about how Bridget fell in love, the counter to my experience of falling out of it with a man in prison, was more than eye opening; it pulled off an old bandaid and revealed the well-heal When I saw this book on the shelf in the library, I felt a physical pull. Although our beginnings and endings were different, the concept of Bridget as a middle class woman, a professional, visiting someone in prison and feeling so out of place spoke into my memories. I was that, at one point in my life. Reading about how Bridget fell in love, the counter to my experience of falling out of it with a man in prison, was more than eye opening; it pulled off an old bandaid and revealed the well-healed scar beneath it. The stories of the women doing time on the outside are difficult to understand, the feelings they evoke are uncomfortable, but they are important. They matter, and they deserve to be heard. Bridget does an amazing job of relaying them in a thoughtful and caring manner. I am very, very glad I read this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    I was expecting this book to be more about women whose significant others were doing time in prison and how that affected their relationships. There are some chapters on women whose husbands are serving time in Pelican Bay, but their stories are superficial at best. The author appears to be extremely self-absorbed. She spends most of her time lamenting the failure of her marriage to a man (who was not in prison) who later discovered that he was gay, and what her divorce meant for her possibilitie I was expecting this book to be more about women whose significant others were doing time in prison and how that affected their relationships. There are some chapters on women whose husbands are serving time in Pelican Bay, but their stories are superficial at best. The author appears to be extremely self-absorbed. She spends most of her time lamenting the failure of her marriage to a man (who was not in prison) who later discovered that he was gay, and what her divorce meant for her possibilities of future motherhood. She also continually stressed that she was "not that type of woman" (someone who marries a man behind bars), even though she "fell in love" with a prisoner (whom she does not marry). She also continually stresses that she is beautiful, talented, intelligent, etc. I got rather sick of watching her praise herself. The author was extremely judgmental towards the women she interviewed. I felt sorry for "Ruth," the first woman she talks with after meeting her in Pelican Bay. The author states that Ruth would be a "spinster" if it wasn't for her man who is locked up, and the author mentions more than once that Ruth is a 50-year-old virgin who sometimes dispenses condoms for her job. The author is also quick to find potentially manipulative behavior in the prisoners, and she calls Rory (the man she "loves") emotionally manipulative more than once. However, the author seems completely oblivious that she is just as manipulative, if not more so. She doesn't pull any punches; she is using this "love" with Rory to heal herself, and once she is healed, she's going to fly away and live a normal life with a normal man. Rory is just an interlude, a fantasy that helps her during a difficult time. The only time the author really mellowed out was when she was on a bus with a bunch of kids going to see their mothers in prison for Mother's Day. Other than that, this memoir is poorly written and incredibly narcissistic. And the ending...how can that possibly even be real? I have serious doubts about the author's truthfulness.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    Part of my problem with this book is that it simply wasn't what I expected: I was looking for something more sociological than memoir. Even as a memoir, it disappoints, simply because -- to my way of thinking -- her story was less interesting than Rory's, yet surprisingly little time was spent on his story or who he is. The other problem, I think, is that so much of the book is spent exploring the author's perception of herself -- a catch, but very wounded -- that I'm not sure who she is outside Part of my problem with this book is that it simply wasn't what I expected: I was looking for something more sociological than memoir. Even as a memoir, it disappoints, simply because -- to my way of thinking -- her story was less interesting than Rory's, yet surprisingly little time was spent on his story or who he is. The other problem, I think, is that so much of the book is spent exploring the author's perception of herself -- a catch, but very wounded -- that I'm not sure who she is outside of that perception. It is similarly difficult to get a handle on her relationship with Rory: she spends so much time telling us how much in love they are, yet so little time explaining why that is. I think that, on some level, she wants the reader to just accept that Rory's love for her is enough of a reason to sympathise with him. There are also many unanswered (and, for that matter, unasked) questions: would this relationship still be on the table if there was a chance that Rory would at any point be released? She touches on that when she interviews other women visiting boyfriends/husbands in prison, but doesn't draw any conclusions or apply the question to her own relationship. She also doesn't address the possibility that the attraction is largely in the limitations of their relationship -- she can let herself open up because she's planning to walk away; she can get emotionally intimate because there is no possibility of physical intimacy or even of seeing one another more frequently. And -- without casting doubt on his feelings, I'd hazard a guess that they were heavily influenced by the fact that, well, she was taking an interest, and he didn't exactly have a lot of other prospects or connections with the outside world. I wish she'd addressed that. It's a pity that she didn't delve deeper into research or the stories of other women, because that could have made this a really interesting book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I would likely refer to this as escapist reading, as it wasn't deep enough to be considered thought provoking or emotionally enveloping. I did appreciate that the author admitted her romantic relationship was a fantasy and not rooted in reality. In reality, would she have been attracted to someone who was so incredibly consumed by her life, claiming it to be love? Hopefully not, as in reality, that would be quite the dysfunctional relationship. She writes several times that women who want childre I would likely refer to this as escapist reading, as it wasn't deep enough to be considered thought provoking or emotionally enveloping. I did appreciate that the author admitted her romantic relationship was a fantasy and not rooted in reality. In reality, would she have been attracted to someone who was so incredibly consumed by her life, claiming it to be love? Hopefully not, as in reality, that would be quite the dysfunctional relationship. She writes several times that women who want children but "can't" have them are looked down upon by society as whiners, and I have to agree. I really wanted to smack her when she whined about having to give up her dream of having children. She wasn't interested in adopting or IVF. I think that what she really wanted was a relationship with someone who would love her unconditionally, but not really a child. If she really wanted a child, she was in a decent enough financial position to adopt or have IVF. She spends all of a paragraph just stating that she doesn't want to go those routes, but never really goes in-depth as to why not. I wanted to like her character, considering she's a real person, but I just couldn't. I found her weak, whiny, and irritating, but she is a decent writer. I think the ending is quite the cop-out, and I have to wonder if that is how it ended in reality, or if she took artistic license. I gave this three stars because it's okay...not fantastic, but not horrible. I checked it out from my local library. If I had paid for it, I would have been pissed. I think this is the kind of book that is extremely personal. Some people will really relate to it, and some will be like me and look in from the outside.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Skye

    Visiting life gave me a lost feeling, as if the author was a drowning woman grasping at every hand that might be extended in here direction, The hand just happened to be that of a prisoner who had all the time in the world to shower her with the validation she was lacking all of her life, that is until he gets cancer and dies. The author finds that this man is just as emotionally traumatized as she is and she is able to see past the hardened criminal and identify with him and his hard life of pa Visiting life gave me a lost feeling, as if the author was a drowning woman grasping at every hand that might be extended in here direction, The hand just happened to be that of a prisoner who had all the time in the world to shower her with the validation she was lacking all of her life, that is until he gets cancer and dies. The author finds that this man is just as emotionally traumatized as she is and she is able to see past the hardened criminal and identify with him and his hard life of past regret and despair. I found the description of her failed marriage to a confused gay man disturbing, and her inability to get over it even more so. I would like to hope that a strong woman with a thriving career and no huge deformities could snag a decent man who isn’t in maximum security prison…. and if she can’t I would like to think she would be strong enough to fill the emotional void with adopted babies or cats. There was something about the book that did keep me reading and it wasn’t the mundane hopelessness of the author. I was interested in the stories of other women who were married or dating prisoners and how they all seemed to be traumatized in one way or another, ether by abusive parents or poor life choices. There is something safe about having your husband locked up all the time, you know he won’t be cheating on you with the girl upstairs in his apartment; it will probably just be his cell mate.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Iman

    I was awed by the first letters from Rory (the inmate she gets to know) - so eloquent and insightful, however, as the book progressed I found reading about their relationship and her life tedious and repetitive. Also, I was disappointed that she ended the book abruptly instead of telling us more about Rory, as if the book only revovled around her. It gave me insight into why people are drawn into relationships with inmates in general. People who are incarcerated with a long time or lifetime sente I was awed by the first letters from Rory (the inmate she gets to know) - so eloquent and insightful, however, as the book progressed I found reading about their relationship and her life tedious and repetitive. Also, I was disappointed that she ended the book abruptly instead of telling us more about Rory, as if the book only revovled around her. It gave me insight into why people are drawn into relationships with inmates in general. People who are incarcerated with a long time or lifetime sentence have few options and little risk in getting involed with someone on the outside. They can pour themselves into the relationship without worrying about getting in too deep and then finding someone else they are attracted to and having the jilted person stalk them and leave endless messages on their answering machine. Also inmates have a lot of time to think about and devote attention to the relationship. I am not minimizing these relationships - just saying why I think it is easy for people to open up more readily in this type of relationship.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Bridget Kinsella's memoir of self-pity while at the same time expressing a gigantic ego know no boundaries. I would consider myself a pretty compassionate person, but this author quickly exceeded my tolerance for her whining about her failed marriage and angst over the fact that she would never give birth to a child of her own. I was hoping to learn more about the other women who were in relationships with the inmates at Pelican Bay, but Kinsella's reporting of their stories were sorely lacking Bridget Kinsella's memoir of self-pity while at the same time expressing a gigantic ego know no boundaries. I would consider myself a pretty compassionate person, but this author quickly exceeded my tolerance for her whining about her failed marriage and angst over the fact that she would never give birth to a child of her own. I was hoping to learn more about the other women who were in relationships with the inmates at Pelican Bay, but Kinsella's reporting of their stories were sorely lacking any depth. This book was a huge disappointment and I wouldn't recommend it. Also, just an aside, contrary to Kinsella's warped perceptions, Californians do not love transplants. Quite the contrary. California transplants love other transplants.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ellen

    I've been reading a lot of memoir and first person narratives, not sure why -- perhaps it's reading Salon.com for book suggestions. I read this book a few weeks ago and it wasn't exactly what I expected. I expected a book that illuminated the experiences of women who had relationships with men in prison. Instead, it was largely Kinsella's processing of the end of her marriage and all that went with it, which included a relationship with a man in prison and all that entails. I kept thinking to my I've been reading a lot of memoir and first person narratives, not sure why -- perhaps it's reading Salon.com for book suggestions. I read this book a few weeks ago and it wasn't exactly what I expected. I expected a book that illuminated the experiences of women who had relationships with men in prison. Instead, it was largely Kinsella's processing of the end of her marriage and all that went with it, which included a relationship with a man in prison and all that entails. I kept thinking to myself "get over it!" -- I'm sure for Kinsella, processing and writing this book was therapuetic, and perhaps if I was able to relate to her feelings I would have gotten more out of this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    I did not like this book. I thought a book with such a great title would explain why women fall in love with prisoners. It did not. It is more about this author's own self esteem issues (gay ex husband). Whatsoever she expect??! I could tell her criminals are manpulitive and those in prison have nothing but time to think out fantasies, write the best love letters, and be the open eared listener all women would prefer in a partner. She wasted her years visiting that prison when she couldve been l I did not like this book. I thought a book with such a great title would explain why women fall in love with prisoners. It did not. It is more about this author's own self esteem issues (gay ex husband). Whatsoever she expect??! I could tell her criminals are manpulitive and those in prison have nothing but time to think out fantasies, write the best love letters, and be the open eared listener all women would prefer in a partner. She wasted her years visiting that prison when she couldve been living a real life not some unrealistic life of weekend visits! This book was the biggest disappointment I read this year!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Visiting Life reminded me why I tend to avoid memoirs. When it was featured on NPR I got the impression this was a study of women in relationships with convicts. It sort of is, but mostly it's a memoir about the author's own semi-erotic relationship with a prisoner. Before you get too excited, there are no hot prison sex scenes or even any titillating sexual fantasies. It's more like an extended psychotherapy session with a rather self-absorbed and naive patient who's taken several creative writ Visiting Life reminded me why I tend to avoid memoirs. When it was featured on NPR I got the impression this was a study of women in relationships with convicts. It sort of is, but mostly it's a memoir about the author's own semi-erotic relationship with a prisoner. Before you get too excited, there are no hot prison sex scenes or even any titillating sexual fantasies. It's more like an extended psychotherapy session with a rather self-absorbed and naive patient who's taken several creative writing classes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Mencarini

    I read several reviews of this memoir in my summer magazines, all of which were positive. While the beginning is a little slow and could have used some stricter editing, it is worth it to keep reading and get to the end. This story of redemption for both the convicted "lifer" in Pelican Bay prison and the author who falls in love with him during her visits is a testament to the transforming power of selfless caring for others. Loved it. I read several reviews of this memoir in my summer magazines, all of which were positive. While the beginning is a little slow and could have used some stricter editing, it is worth it to keep reading and get to the end. This story of redemption for both the convicted "lifer" in Pelican Bay prison and the author who falls in love with him during her visits is a testament to the transforming power of selfless caring for others. Loved it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Faust

    THis was an exceptionally good book. I set out to read this thinking it was a book solely about a variety of women who fall in love with/marry men in prison. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was really the author's story of her journey into a realationship with an inmate. While professionally, I still don't "get it", I was really touched by the author's story and the way in which she allowed it to unfold. Highly recommended as a way to step outside your reading comfort zone! THis was an exceptionally good book. I set out to read this thinking it was a book solely about a variety of women who fall in love with/marry men in prison. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was really the author's story of her journey into a realationship with an inmate. While professionally, I still don't "get it", I was really touched by the author's story and the way in which she allowed it to unfold. Highly recommended as a way to step outside your reading comfort zone!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marianna

    Wow, I really enjoyed this book. Very interesting and well written. When I heard her interview discussing her book on Satelite Sisters I knew I had to read it. I think in part the years I spent working in Corrections and watching the family and loved ones stand by also made this all the more interesting for me. The whole thing was just very fascinating.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Preston Page

    Bridget Kinsella jumps right in with how she became a visitor to prison, for life. She demonstrates her own uncertainty and how quickly it became certainty and lead to her involvement with a man sentence for life in prison. She also quickly becomes involved with the other women who live similar lives.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tate

    Something that I had not given much thought to...a well educated woman falling in love with a convicted murderer. I love memoirs (as you can probably tell) and found this to be like reading someone's diary. Which it sort of is! Something that I had not given much thought to...a well educated woman falling in love with a convicted murderer. I love memoirs (as you can probably tell) and found this to be like reading someone's diary. Which it sort of is!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This book ended up being a lot different than I expected, as it's also a memoir by the author! The relationship between the author and a young lifer was tender and heartbreaking. Definitely a three-hankie book! This book ended up being a lot different than I expected, as it's also a memoir by the author! The relationship between the author and a young lifer was tender and heartbreaking. Definitely a three-hankie book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rita-Marie

    I really wanted to like this book...I thought the premise was fascinating. However, it read more like a catharis journal for the author on her messed relationships rather than exploring the psyche and motivations of women who pursue relationships with convicts.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    It was far more interesting than I thought it would be. It really opened my eyes to see that even "normal" people can fall in love with an inmate. I can't believe the amount of faith those women have. I don't think that I would be able to live like that. It was far more interesting than I thought it would be. It really opened my eyes to see that even "normal" people can fall in love with an inmate. I can't believe the amount of faith those women have. I don't think that I would be able to live like that.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Can you imagine staying married, or marrying while within death row? Wow, this seems really interesting...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Strange memoir,but I couldn't put it down. Definitely a quick read. There are a couple funny quotes about the type of women that generally do not end up visiting men in prison... Good book. Strange memoir,but I couldn't put it down. Definitely a quick read. There are a couple funny quotes about the type of women that generally do not end up visiting men in prison... Good book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Meh. At least it's a quick read. I'd add to that thought, but others have written excellent reviews already. Meh. At least it's a quick read. I'd add to that thought, but others have written excellent reviews already.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny M

    This book is well-written and interesting, but I found the subject matter depressing.

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