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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Fading of Kimberly is an historical women’s fiction novel written by Kit Crumpton. Warren Willard Weatherspoon, a wealthy railroad magnate, had lost his beloved wife, Lucinda, when she gave birth to their daughter, Kimberly. His first, unspoken thought when checking his baby’s gender for himself was regret that it was not a boy. He would have been his son’s mentor and groomed the child to take over the empire he had created. Looking down at his baby, he marveled at her physical perfection and vowed to give her everything she could ever desire. Weatherspoon and, to a far greater extent, his butler, William, would do everything they could for Kimberly, but her early influences were a series of nurses and nannies. As she got older, and increasingly more willful, Weatherspoon sent her to a school for privileged girls. She was aghast at being sent away and begged him not to do so, but he was adamant -- and one more fragile thread connecting father and daughter was severed.
The Fading of Kimberly is a well-written and enthralling tale about a narcissistic female child whose privileged family background does little to protect her from the double standards applied to unconventional or demanding women in the early twentieth century. As I read, I couldn’t help but ponder how so many of Kimberly’s so-called character flaws would have been considered as assets had she been born the male heir Weatherspoon had hoped for. Crumpton’s story also works quite well as a psychological thriller as she chronicles the investigation of the murder of Kimberly’s classmate and the subsequent incarceration of the murderer within the criminally insane section of the Elgin State Mental Hospital. I was particularly caught up in the developing relationship between keeper and captor: Eddie Fisk, whose own proclivity to violence is noted, and Riley Nacht, the astronomer. Crumpton also discusses the use of lobotomy at the time for dealing with difficult or rebellious women, noting in her Author’s Notes Section that women in mental institutions in the early twentieth century “had an eighty percent chance” of being lobotomized. The Fading of Kimberly is most highly recommended.