From Publishers Weekly
Betty Broderick was positioned, by personality and acculturation, to be a victim of her husband, in the view of Stumbo, a recently retired reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Betty, described as beautiful and intelligent, was raised by her rigidly Catholic parents to be the loving wife of one man and the mother of his children. She was also trained to have "an infinite capacity to put on a happy face." She helped support Dan while he attended Cornell Medical School and Harvard Law School; after they moved to San Diego, he became a millionaire and president of the local bar association. When Dan began an affair with a former airline stewardess, he divorced Betty and determined to deprive her of their shared assets in a settlement.
The San Diego legal community closed ranks behind him in his campaign of what one psychiatrist described as "legal abuse."
In 1989, after several years of this treatment, Betty fatally shot both Dan and his new wife Linda. Betty's first trial ended in a hung jury, her second in a guilty verdict and a sentence of 30 years to life. Stumbo's sensitive portrait is not so partisan as to depict Betty as a saintly martyr, but it is nonetheless a searing depiction of a woman so conditioned by what she perceived as traditional femininity that she became self-destructive, "a woman in ruins."
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Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Richly researched, gripping story of a castoff San Diego wife who shot and killed her ex-husband and his new wife one morning in 1989 while they lay asleep. Debut author Stumbo (a Los Angeles Times reporter) makes no pleas but shows that well-spoken, well-read Betty Broderick was so beaten with betrayal by her husband that her present 30-year sentence is probably unjust.
Betty and Dan endured nine pregnancies that produced four children, and Betty bonded to Dan all the way, sharing his obsession with getting a legal degree for himself, on top of his medical degree, so that he could reap millions as a medical-malpractice lawyer. This took big sacrifices: Betty was not only a mother machine and superwife but she also did extra jobs to support the family while Dan got his second degree at Harvard, fraternized with future business ties, and kept himself in brilliant plumage. Stumbo follows the Brodericks through their rise from poverty to high fashion in La Jolla, and she captures Betty's disbelief when, after 16 years of marriage, Dan fell for ``teenaged office bimbo'' Linda Kolkena. Dan denied the affair for two years while setting up house with Linda and giving her a fancy office as his paralegal. When Dan moved out, Betty's whole nature changed
as she became foul-mouthed, burned all of Dan's suits, drove her car through the front door of his new house, and harassed him endlessly--all of which helped Dan win a no-fault divorce and the kids. Greedy but "borderline hysteric" Betty grew ever battier as years went by, and finally killed Dan and Linda. Her first trial ended in a hung jury, but the second convicted her--of murder in the second degree. The white male power structure that defends Dan, his divorce rulings, and his silver-tongued but hard-drinking selfishness gets a rough going over here. You do begin to see Betty's side of things.
Bang bang. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.