DIAMOND DORIS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIOUS JEWEL THIEF, Doris Payne. Amistad, $25.99 (288p) ISBN-13: 9780062917997
Publication date: September 10, 2019
To say that it is amazing that Doris Payne generated a career as a global jewelry thief for six decades is an understatement. When reading about her life, one can’t help but marvel over the level of dedication and precision that she exerted into her unlawful profession. The Virginia native was driven by her desire to support her family, live an above-average life, and embrace her love of glamour and the finer things. Looking and acting the part was crucial. Customers who embodied class and sophistication, and frankly, looked like they came from money, usually received top service. When Miss Payne stepped out on the town, she was frequently assumed to be a celebrity. What also worked in her favor was her charm, wit, knack for conversation, and vigilance. Her operation, arguably a one-woman show, had its share of collaborators.
Firstly, this book (and Zelda Lockart) succeeds in capturing Miss Payne’s voice. You can’t help but feel like you are in the same room, perhaps a living room, as she shares her life story. She has a very “it-is-what-it-is” vibe, which seems true to the woman you are reading about in this book. The book doesn’t come off like Miss Payne is trying to prove a point or change minds—she just wants to tell her story and leave the opinions and outlooks to the reader.
After and even during the book, Miss Payne’s motives (whether wrong or right) helped me to understand her life decisions. Whether I agreed or disagreed, I was able to see where she was coming from. Miss Payne, who saw her mother endure domestic abuse, vowed to never let a man treat her how her father treated her mother. She felt very strongly about this from childhood to adulthood. Some people go through unfortunate experiences only to later perpetuate or tolerate that same behavior. It was refreshing to find Miss Payne stick to her guns about refusing to let a man control and abuse her.
Right now, we live in an era where women in the spotlight are getting praised for outsmarting and playing men, “taking back their power,” if you will, and I have no doubt that there are people who will be cheering for Miss Payne and saying “yasss, Doris” over the course of this autobiography.
Furthermore, when reading Diamond Doris, it is abundantly clear that it is only right that she wrote a book about her life, and that it should become a movie. I understand that actress Tessa Thompson will portray Miss Payne in the long overdue (but still timely) biopic, and, honey, she better bring it!
Rating: Booking Cool
So Cool: Good
Booking Cool: Excellent
So Booking Cool: Masterpiece