Reanimating history is an important skill in the storyteller’s toolbox, but Telfer is equally adroit at reporting out more recent, and more obscure, femmes de confidence ... Telfer has a keen eye for the larger context of those in perpetual pursuit of marks, and right away zeroes in on why con artists—and especially female con artists—continue to fascinate us ... Confident Women exposes the high-wire dance between con artist and mark, between a certain number of women transforming their own combination of inherited trauma for personal gain and those who fall under their spell.
Telfer profiles those whose misdeeds are more of the grifting than the murdering variety ... Collected here are 13 tales, each around the length of a juicy podcast, about women whose relationship to truth and justice was, at best, a bit wobbly ... The farther away from our own time and place, of course, the easier it is to find charm and romance in these tales. Still, Telfer narrates them with great verve, grace and even humor.
It’s awful stuff, but with Telfer at the wheel, reading these tales of plunder—littered with diamonds, fancy cars, mansions, booze and furs—is a fun, spicy romp ... As Telfer stuffs the stories of these grifters, drifters, spiritualists and fabulists in mesmerizing detail, she more than succeeds in giving them their due. But, she warns, make no mistake about the damage they left in their wake. Confident Women is also a dark cautionary tale about the fragile nature of trust and why we choose to believe.