Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love
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Peninsula of Lies is nonfiction mystery, set in a haunting gothic locale and peopled by fascinating and eccentric characters. Its hero and heroine is Dawn Langley Simmons, a British writer who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1960s and became the center of one of the most unusual sexual scandals.
Born in England, Dawn began life as a boy named Gordon Langley Hall, the son of servants at Sissinghurst Castle, the estate of Vita Sackville-West. In his twenties he made his way to New York, where he wrote about and befriended great society ladies. A small fortune inherited from Isabel Whitney allowed him to buy and decorate a mansion in Charleston. But Gordon's world changed in 1968 when at The Johns Hopkins Hospital he underwent one of the first sexual reassignment surgeries, scandalizing the Southern community that had welcomed him. Months later Gordon shocked Charleston again. Gordon -- now Dawn -- married a young black mechanic, soon appeared to be pregnant, and shortly thereafter became the mother of a young girl.
National Book Award-winning author Edward Ball has written a detective story that unwraps Dawn's many mysteries. The result is an engrossing narrative of a person who tested every taboo, as well as the confidence of observers in their own eyes.
black pants with silver cowboy trim on the leg seams, a brown sweater, and cowboy boots. She had a sharp nose, short graying hair, and thin lips; and on her lean face were oval tortoiseshell eyeglasses. Her voice was husky. As a teenager Chase had shown an aptitude for science, and in college during the 1970s she’d studied math and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She then broke ranks to do graduate work in Japanese at Harvard. The two paths converged in her twenties, when
wrote Gordon, “Do find time to come in to see us once in a while. I think it is good for my paper for a notable like yourself to be seen coming in and out of our basement.” With Papoose, Gordon had made a writing career, but instead of finding a new subject as unusual as the Ojibwa, he allowed himself to be drawn further into his fascination with famous women. He developed a sideline writing for American newspapers about the British royal family. In 1957, he published a biography, Princess
sometimes,” said Marjorie. Despite her acceptance, Marjorie occasionally sounded as though she might crack under the strain caused by news of her child’s life. When Dawn announced she planned to marry John-Paul, Marjorie sent a rattled stream-of-consciousness reply: Now you say you want to be married in England. I do think you should get strong again before you think of marriage. Don’t think I am against John-Paul. I am not. But at least for three months you should wait before you marry. After
Dawn leaned forward and said, “It’s Miss Hall, please.” Wedding rings were passed between the bride and groom, and the television cameras crossed the room for a close-up. Pushing their way between the minister and the bride, the cameramen briefly interrupted the vows. According to the reporter, at the end of the ceremony, the pastor put his hands on the kneeling couple and said, “I now declare that you is both man and wife.” After this, Dawn and John-Paul kissed for thirty-seven seconds.
desertion and has ended with frantic calls in the night.” Natasha, smoking a cigarette in her house, remembered what it was like to be a little girl around her erratic father. “It was big drama,” she said. “I was little—five years old, seven, then ten. There was a lot of conflict, and there was this lady who was always around, the woman my dad ran off with that got him strung out on a lot of stuff. My mom said he was never quite right after that.” In Catskill, John-Paul had found a new