Another Book Inhabited by Dolls


Marie of 1WriteWay introduced me to the writer of another book with the word DOLL in the title.

Dolls Behaving Badly

When I started reading Cinthia Ritchie’s novel Dolls Behaving Badly I immediately thought, “Oh, my son’s fiancée will love this book.” Then I thought, “Mom will want to read this book.”


It starts off like fun chick lit. A single mom of a genius 8-year-old son needs to figure out how to pay her bills on her waitress salary and find love and happiness from a trailer in Alaska.


Luckily for me, before I sent a link to them, the dolls entered the book. Just in time, I stayed my hand (I know the phrase doesn’t belong outside the Bible or historical romances, but this is where it gets a little “Biblical”).  The protagonist, Carla Richards, is not just a server, but also an artist, and retired Barbie and Ken dolls serve her art. She hacks and appends to them, all for a very “upscale” erotic website.


Although I didn’t send out the link, I kept reading because the last thing this book is is porn. It’s a well-crafted story of how Carla and the “family” she builds around her grow and change with dignity.


Ritchie know how to tell a story that is both accessible and thought-provoking.  Sometimes the book stuns me with a lyrical phrase or brilliant notion.  She uses some contemporary stylistic experiments quite well. For instance, Carla is writing her diary in tandem with reading the philosophies of an inspirational speaker known as The Oprah Giant. She’s haunted by the ghost of her dead Polish grandmother and is still friends with her ex, a chef. The recipes of both these characters are translated by Carla and the recipes supplied for the reader.


If it were a movie, the book would be called a comedy, maybe even a romantic comedy, but as written word it is much more than that. The book probes and examines our hopes and fears without letting us know that’s what it’s doing. Dolls Behaving Badly is not lightweight or superficial. It accesses the hidden areas of the mind and of the heart.


I still think my mother and future daughter-in-law would love this book, but I can hear the comments (“My mom gave you a book with WHAT kind of dolls?”). Maybe I could send it to them anonymously?


Filed under Art and Music, Book Review, Books, Dolls, Fiction, Novel, Reading, Writing

39 responses to “Another Book Inhabited by Dolls

  1. It sounds interesting, a definite maybe. 🙂

  2. I have heard this is a good one. Will have to put it on the list.

  3. The Lonely Doll children’s books by Dare Wright are my favorite doll books because they’re weird and a little dark. My kids loved them (as did my students). The black and white photography of the doll Edith and her two bear friends makes me feel like their actually living, breathing creatures.

  4. Sounds a whole lot better than 50 Shades….

  5. I agree with Kate. Cute cover!

  6. I’ve seen this book around. Sounds really good. Great cover too!

    • It is really a fun read and so well written. It’s one of those books a writer can’t help but examine to see what makes it tick!

  7. Oh, I did love this novel! So glad you enjoyed it too, Luanne. I think your mom and daughter-in-law-to-be would enjoy it. Like you say, it’s not porn. Ritchie treats the doll enterprise so matter-of-factly, I found that part hilarious 🙂

  8. Well, well, well. This sounds like something to cure the March blahs and I have some $ left on a bookstore gift card!

  9. Oh, oh, thanks so, so much for the great review, Luanne! It means a lot coming from you, since I so value your opinion. I’m also excited that you read and enjoyed my book, especially since you are also a “Dolls” person, lol (how odd that both of our books have the word dolls in the title. It’s not exactly commonplace, you know?) I’m totally reblogging this on my site (if I can figure out how to reblog). Big, big hugs, and thanks again.

  10. Reblogged this on Cinthia Ritchie and commented:
    I love you, Luanne Castle!

    For those of you who don’t know, Castle is the award-winning author of Doll God, with work in such esteemed publications as Grist, Barnstorm Journal, The Antigonish Review, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, Wisconsin Review, The Review Review, Ducts, A Narrow Fellow, Redheaded Stepchild and The MacGuffin.

    When it comes to writing, she is what they call “the real thing.”

    And she liked my book! She recently reviewed “Dolls Behaving Badly” on her site.


  11. I enjoyed your review — and I am intrigued by “Dolls Behaving Badly.”

  12. Hmmm, I’m not sure I would have thought about reading this book, but after your review, I’m intrigued!

  13. You are one of my fellow (sister) travelers on Goodreads, so I get notices of your reading activity, and I’m always SO impressed!! You are a great reader, and I saw this in one of my notices. I aspire to be as actively literary as you are. 🙂

    • Hahaha. I am picturing me lying down on the couch with the current book. In 5 minutes I’m asleep with book falling on the floor and my glasses who knows where, sometimes still on my face.

  14. I am pretty G-rated myself, but I didn’t find the erotic dolls to be a problem. This is an amazing, heartwarming and mind-blowing book!

  15. Hi Luanne! Today’s my first doll post which I mentioned your book on! I appreciate our history of connections and similar roots, growing up one state away. Hugs, Robin ♡

  16. Sounds intriguing Luanne – I wonder if the cover does it a disservice as it sounds more thoughtful that it appears.

  17. Anonymously to your mother – just a thought. Okay for your daughter! 🙂

  18. Pingback: Dolls Behaving Badly – a review (2) | reading recommendations reviewed

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