International Writers Magazine: Review
I was captivated by
this book, finding the authors perfect balance between description,
storytelling and reflection an absolute must read. A story for every female
out there; this tale sums up how far women will go for what they want
and what they believe is best for their kids. Its a tug-o-war between
ones own needs and that of her offspring; a time old tale with a
beautifully sincere angle.
Me Elizabeth (2005)
Time Warner Books
Emma King review
A story of abuse,
rape, prostitution, marriage, money and family values, there are
few issues Call Me Elizabeth doesnt explore. Told from her
own point of view (with the aide of a ghostwriter) and with the
benefit of hindsight, wife, mother and ex-escort Dawn Annandale,
spills her heart out in this refreshingly real and honest autobiography.
Beginning with an escort agency advert, Dawn sets out the real topic of
the novel; before reflecting on her past and the reasons for taking this
path. Looking back at her history, Dawn explains her motivation for prostitution
in terms of financial struggles and wanting the best for her six children.
She ruminates over her parents, grandparents and unstable childhood, grieving
over the abuse she suffered as a young girl; a disturbing but well-written
As the book progresses, Dawn reveals her journey from young girl to married
mother and escort, dwelling on her choice of husbands and boyfriends,
purchases and expenses, friends and clients, and pimps and madams. With
conscientious thinking and self-exploration, Dawns own thoughts
seem to be structured through this novel, in a way that seems to help
the author herself understand what she went though.
Call Me Elizabeth is a far cry from the glossy world of Belle
Du Jour, replacing sexual delights with the real world of prostitution;
exhausting, dangerous and hardcore. It faces up to the actual life of
a Pretty Woman at work and its not encouraging. From an unknown
line of male commitment phobes, unfortunate lookers or men into extremely
odd fetishes for clients, Dawn suffers verbal abuse, rape, sexual diseases
and abortion; doing little to adhere to Billie Pipers smiley face
in Secret Diary of A Call Girl.
So what was the authors intent in becoming a fully fledged escort?
Dawn aims to save her house from financial misery and keep her kids in
private school. A moral mistake of her own perhaps, forming a need for
quick cash. Surprisingly, however, its not her choice of career
that is the most disturbing of her decisions.
Its not long before her long term husband Paul becomes the most
irritating character in this tale, made more disturbing when you remember
he is an actual person and not a fictional villain. You cant help
but scream at Dawn for staying married to such a useless piece of shit,
whatever the concerns for her childrens stability may be. She also
defends this act of denial with the confession that she was in love with
him, which as an outsider to her life we cannot judge. But as readers
into her world, you just want to kick this man in an uncomfortable place
and give this fantastic writer, but somewhat misguided soul, a big hug!
With her independent attitude and never dying spirit, Dawn deserves someone
far better, who she finds in new love interest David. David becomes entangled
with her marriage and kids, making it even harder for Dawn to keep track
of her secret night life and continuous necessary lies.
However, despite understanding Dawns need to protect her children,
especially after such an unfortunate childhood of her own, you do feel
somewhat angry at her. It doesnt seem humanly possible for one person
to put themselves through so many ordeals that could have been avoided.
Had Dawn faced up to her debts sooner instead of ignoring the mounting
bills, not to mention her insistence on private education, maybe she could
have saved herself from the trials of life as a call girl.
Therefore, the only criticisms to be made of Dawns novel are her
unrealistic values and lack of self-appreciation, which although understood
by the reader, makes the author somewhat annoying. I think it is the effect
her tale has on upon you; reading her achievements as a mother will make
all others feel somewhat ashamed of their own efforts. She is like
Super-Mum meets Super-Woman. There is almost nothing this lady cant
cope with; making her seem a tad unreal, and probably causing many readers
to reluctantly self-compare their own motherly qualities. However, Dawn
makes a strong and lovable lead role, her annoying flaws making her a
little more human and offering the readers a chance to empathise with
It has been suggested that many readers are only interested in those who
stray from the path of righteousness. What is touching about Dawns
tale is that we almost want her to stray, if doing a social wrong means
creating a moral right. Realism is definitely what captures you here;
knowing these events actually happened make Call Me Elizabeth far
more emotional, as the author means every word.
I must say, Ive not rooted for a character like this since I read
Waris Diries autobiographies. Dawn can be agonising at times, creating
more problems for herself, but the way she looks back at these decisions
fills you with reassurance as she realises where she went wrong. Dawn
might not be rueful of her choices nor does she praise them, but she does
give a real account from her own perspective and the opinions of those
around her. An opposing personality and perhaps an unlikely choice, but
Dawn Annandale is a role model for every woman out there. May this book
help her family and her to move on; she deserves to shine! A tale of true
reflection, complete honesty and no regret; good luck to the author!
for news on her sequel Call Me Madam.
© Emma King December 2007
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