The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Jane Roper’s upcoming release, The Society of Shame (Anchor Books, anticipated release date 4/4/2023) primarily takes place over the course of 28 days, and opens with a perimenopausal woman, Kathleen Held, finding her husband, who is running for US Senate, on the front lawn in his underwear, with one of his young staffers in the bushes with her panties around her ankles. If the affair wasn’t bad enough, a viral photograph from the scene showed Kathleen with a period stain on the back of her pants. Kathleen is mortified over the affair and the period stain, but the picture takes on a life of its own, and a women’s rights movement is born and given her face.
Kathleen wants nothing to do with #YesWeBleed, until a new group of misfit friends that form the Society of Shame convince her to “reap the rewards” of the unwanted attention. Kathleen reinvents herself and joins the movement. And, in a menstrual cycle, nearly loses who she is and the person she loves most – her young daughter, Aggie.
The Society of Shame is made up of individuals who have been “canceled” following viral videos or tweets or sound bites. The “club” is a bit of an odd recovery program with the goal that these canceled authors, influencers, actors, etc., can reenter society and resume their lives. As Kathleen gets more entrenched in the program and the #YesWeBleed movement, the absurdities of cancel culture and social media fame become more apparent.
The Society of Shame is an absurd and hilarious social commentary on politics, media, and womanhood in today’s society. The whip-smart writing made the novel such a delight. I lost count of the number of times I guffawed while reading; it’s funny because it’s true. And while I didn’t plan it this way, reading it while on my period added a fun little twist to it.
Read this book.
*Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy.