SHATTERED NIGHT by Kay & Alan Burgess Sandiford


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A battered wife's surprisingly pedestrian account of the years of abuse that finally triggered a homicidal reaction, with a big hole in the center: Kay Sandiford still remembers almost nothing about pumping five bullets from a .357 Colt Python into her Italian-born husband Frank, a well-known Houston heart surgeon, except that he was coming after her with a tennis racket and said he was going to ""get"" her. Kay had reason to be scared; Frank was not your normal hubby. Hadn't he tried to rape her in a swimming pool at their first meeting? Hadn't he punched her out a week after their wedding (""Every wife needs a good beating"")? Hadn't he thrown her off their sailfish far from shore during the honeymoon? Hadn't he (maybe. . .) had something to do with her mother's death (he'd given her pills, and later said ""Don't let them perform an autopsy"")? Hadn't he: performed two unwanted abortions on Kay; dragged her off to Italy on trips to recruit patients, and barred her from leaving the hotel room; verbally absued her at the slightest provocation (""What have you done . . . you crap American peasant?""); tried to drown her on another vacation; abandoned her in the middle of the Mojave Desert; and beaten her up regularly for 17 years? Not to mention running around with other women (one of whom, it turned out, he'd been more or less living with for four years during sporadic absences from home), popping all sorts of pills, and boasting that he planned to kill medical colleague Denton Cooley. In view of this portrait of Frank, readers may wonder why the jury didn't give Kay a testimonial dinner rather than a voluntary manslaughter conviction (albeit with no jail time). They had problems with the ""why"" of Kay's relationship with the demonic doc--probably the hardest thing for outsiders to understand about any battered woman's experience: what made her stay? She felt ""revulsion. . . but also this excitement and fascination""; also, ""there was no way to control or change the situation or have any influence over events."" Plus shades, perhaps, of guilt over something darker (""I had done ugly things with Frank, things you'd not have dreamed existed. . .""), though readers seeking titillation will be disappointed. In all, more puzzling than moving--self-exploitation without self-revelation--and no real contribution to the literature on battered women.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1983
Publisher: Warner