The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski

In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, "the girl" at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions.In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, “the girl” at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski...

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Title:The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski
Author:Samantha Geimer
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Edition Language:English

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski Reviews

  • Aphra Behn

    "The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski" is powerful. Samantha Geimer has a "tell it like it is" voice and comes right to the point. Her story is compelling and strongly told. After so many years she says it her way. This book stayed with me for a long time.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at:

    Since 1977 people have speculated about what

    happened to “The Girl” Roman Polanski took to Jack Nicholson’s house. Was she a willing participant? Did her mother hand to over in order to advance her own/her husband’s/her daughter’s career? Was Polanski a predator who focused on young girls? Thirty-five years after that fateful trip up Mulholland Drive, Samantha Geimer (“The Girl”) finally tells the story in her own words.

    That voy

    Find all of my reviews at:

    Since 1977 people have speculated about what

    happened to “The Girl” Roman Polanski took to Jack Nicholson’s house. Was she a willing participant? Did her mother hand to over in order to advance her own/her husband’s/her daughter’s career? Was Polanski a predator who focused on young girls? Thirty-five years after that fateful trip up Mulholland Drive, Samantha Geimer (“The Girl”) finally tells the story in her own words.

    That voyeuristic part that resides inside me has always been fascinated by this story. I mean, a man who has spent

    entire life in exile has to be guilty, right? On the other hand, a girl who has never spoken out about her experience might have been a pawn in the situation and set up to be Polanski’s “Lolita”. Geimer does an excellent job breaking her silence. In her own words: “We’ve all done something in our lives we regret, something that is stupid; or something awful and stupid is done to us. For 90 percent of these situations, there comes a time when you need to let it go – unless you don’t want to. And then, in a sense, it’s your problem.” With the years so far removed, the happiness she has found in her adult life and the punishment Polanski has endured from the court of public opinion, Geimer has been left with the ability to tell her story in a very matter-of-fact way. And what a story it is – still completely horrifying/fascinating. I couldn’t put it down.

    And what a remarkable woman Geimer has become. Although very much an innocent party to this entire ordeal (say what you want about the mother/others involved, at 13 Geimer was a CHILD and Polanski a 43 year old man who should have known better), she never plays a “woe is me” card in this novel. She sticks to the facts, maintaining her belief that Polanski’s punishment at the time of the rape was sufficient, is candid about the rough road she took through her remaining childhood, and finally tells of how she was able to heal and move on. As she says “The word victim comes from the Latin word meaning the person or animal sacrificed for some religious purpose. Over time it’s developed to mean a person who suffers from an accident or incident that leaves them injured and compromised in some way. I imagine it must be terrible to be a victim.”

  • Debbie

    This book falls into a category that seems to be one I like to dip into a lot. It's a well-written story of a horrible crime. Samantha Gailey is two weeks younger than I am. When she was 13 she was raped by director Roman Polanski in the home of Jack Nicholson.

    Samantha desperately wanted to keep her anonymity and continue on with her life. Her family and lawyer were in favor of Polanski receiving a light sentence in a plea bargain. No one wanted young Samantha to be forced to testify and face th

    This book falls into a category that seems to be one I like to dip into a lot. It's a well-written story of a horrible crime. Samantha Gailey is two weeks younger than I am. When she was 13 she was raped by director Roman Polanski in the home of Jack Nicholson.

    Samantha desperately wanted to keep her anonymity and continue on with her life. Her family and lawyer were in favor of Polanski receiving a light sentence in a plea bargain. No one wanted young Samantha to be forced to testify and face the news media in a salacious trial. Unfortunately, the judge went back on his word, Polanski scared of a harsh prison sentence skipped the country. Because of these events Samantha's case has been in the public eye for almost 40 years. What a nightmare for her!

    Now, I'm going to veer into the personal, since I keep this goodreads to tell what I think about when I read these books. I tried to put this as a private note, but it was too long so I guess I have to publicly post it if I want to keep what I wrote, and I do. So, If you read this part, please don't try to guess what I'm talking about, because I'm not going to be specific. I'm not going to say if I'm talking about rape, beatings, neglect, dog whippings or unfun birthday parties. Maybe I'm not writing about anything personal at all and I'm just extrapolating. So don't ask what this is about, because I'm not going to answer you. Better yet, don't read it because it's really only for me and you're snooping! So, here's the hidden part of my review that goodreads wouldn't let me hide:

    I respect that Samantha never lets Polanski off the hook. Being the same age as she is, I know that society was more accepting of pedophilia and rapists in that era. I understand that she just wants to move ahead with her life and forget what happened. I do wonder from my own personal experience if at some point in the future she'll experience more anger. I know that when I was young it was important for me to move ahead and not dwell on the unpleasantness of my childhood. I wanted to be perceived as a "nice girl", so I moved ahead and never told anyone what happened to me. I thought it was best to just move forward. I figured good girls smile and don't discuss nasty things. I prided myself as being tougher than others. Then one day I realized that I couldn't just nostalgically talk about my childhood like most people. I would just become angry. I found out that I hadn't really moved on. I had repressed all my feelings and was absolutely furious. I still haven't resolved my issues. I probably never will. Samantha seems well-adjusted and had a supportive family and lawyer. I hope she has come to terms with everything that has happened to her. I also think Roman Polanski is a creep who should not have run away from justice.

  • Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    2.5 stars. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. It was sent by Atria Books.

    This book is, on one hand, completely fascinating. As someone who was not terribly familiar with the Polanski case other than in the broadest of terms (and someone who somewhat sheepishly loves US Weekly), I found the events themselves riveting, and I could not put it down for the entire first half (I read the entire book in one day). The first half reads somewhat like a long US Weekly interview.

    On the other hand, t

    2.5 stars. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. It was sent by Atria Books.

    This book is, on one hand, completely fascinating. As someone who was not terribly familiar with the Polanski case other than in the broadest of terms (and someone who somewhat sheepishly loves US Weekly), I found the events themselves riveting, and I could not put it down for the entire first half (I read the entire book in one day). The first half reads somewhat like a long US Weekly interview.

    On the other hand, the further into the book I read, the less I was able to like the author's voice-- the theme is overwhelmingly that she sees herself as a survivor, not a victim; however the bulk of the second half of the book is about how she and her family have been repeatedly victimized by the media and the justice system. Her anger, not toward Polanski, but toward the press and the legal system, is so palpable. Because of that tone of anger, the end of the book feels like it lacks any closure. I wonder if Geimer's lifelong desire for privacy has made her memoir less sympathetic, as she writes very little about any happiness in her life, and I hope that is because she doesn't want to share that part of her life with the world, and not because she continues to be as angry and unhappy as the tone of this memoir makes her out to be.

  • Lee Anne

    I could not wait to read this book, due to my long, complicated, imaginary relationship with Roman Polanski. I can't remember which came first, in a chicken or egg way: did I read

    first (I think I was in tenth grade), or see a picture of Polanski in US Weekly or Newsweek (the two magazines my parents subscribed to in the early 80s, both of which were a formative part of my growing up), and seeing how cute he was (no kidding; his tiny, elfin foreignness was like catnip to my teenag

    I could not wait to read this book, due to my long, complicated, imaginary relationship with Roman Polanski. I can't remember which came first, in a chicken or egg way: did I read

    first (I think I was in tenth grade), or see a picture of Polanski in US Weekly or Newsweek (the two magazines my parents subscribed to in the early 80s, both of which were a formative part of my growing up), and seeing how cute he was (no kidding; his tiny, elfin foreignness was like catnip to my teenage self) go backward and read his memoir,

    HS? I know I read his memoir in high school, too. Back then, I was probably even jealous of Samantha Geimer, as horrible as it sounds; I thought she was lucky to get attention from him, and the way he explained it in his book sounded way more consensual than the facts. I even took a quarter of Polish in college because of Roman Polanski.

    As many years have passed, and I've grown up and gotten some sense, my thoughts have on this have changed. But I was also one of those people who blamed Geimer's mother as much as, if not more than, Polanski. What kind of idiot lets her teenage daughter have a photo session ALONE with a middle-aged man? Of course this European man, whose mother died in a concentration camp and whose pregnant wife was killed by the Manson Family, is dead inside and decadent, and again, European, where the cliche says it's okay to fuck little girls. The Aesop's Fable of the scorpion and the frog comes to mind.

    This book (and the 2008 documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired") has changed my opinion again. When Samantha Geimer details her rape by Polanski, it is clear that it is not consensual at all; she is no Lolita. She is a naive teen, using lies and bravado to seem more mature than her years, and finding herself in a situation where her "no's" aren't heard and she has no choice but to disassociate from her body and hope it's over quickly. Her mother is not some scheming pimp/stage mother, but is also trusting (How could a famous, respected director be a bad person?) and is full of anger, regret, and guilt once she realizes what has happened to her daughter. In the aftermath of the rape and prosecution, Geimer's life is reminiscent of the Jodie Foster/Cherie Currie movie "Foxes"--a whirl of sex, drinking and drugs. It's the classic seventies teenage nightmare, and it's also a more innocent (and more decadent) time than we live in today.

    Geimer clearly doesn't want to see herself as a victim, at least not of Polanski. After many dark years, she has made a happy life for herself in Hawaii. A lot of readers may even be angry with her for not excoriating her rapist, but she refuses, while saying what he did was wrong. She does, however, paint herself as a victim of the press and the justice system. The case was bungled by a media-obsessed judge, whose rumored change of mind led Polanski to flee rather than be sentenced to up to 50 years in jail, after a plea deal had been worked out by the prosecution and the defense. Since then, every time he has been in the news, for winning an Academy Award, or being arrested in Switzerland in 2009 after a zealous Los Angeles district attorney tried to stir things up again, Geimer's house has been stalked and surrounded by reporters who clamor for a sound bite or opinion. Nancy Grace and Phil McGraw, those vultures of crime, have both tried to lure her to their horrible shows. The back third of the book bogs down in Geimer's railing against "justice" and the media, and is only enlivened with the inclusion of a note written to her by Polanski in 2009, in which he apologizes and takes full responsibility for his actions.

    I wish Geimer well, and I hope people remember that she is allowed to feel about this any way she wants. It is HER story.

    A follow up documentary, detailing the Switzerland arrest, is soon to debut on Showtime. I can't wait.

  • Lindsay

    I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. In fact, the copy I received was an "advanced uncorrected proof", so it did not have an image on the cover or any photos inside.

    I have yet to see a Roman Polanski film, but I know quite a bit about him. After learning about the Manson family's murder of Sharon Tate, I became interested in her famous widowed husband, trying to imagine what it would be like to have your wife and unborn child ruthlessly slain in y

    I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. In fact, the copy I received was an "advanced uncorrected proof", so it did not have an image on the cover or any photos inside.

    I have yet to see a Roman Polanski film, but I know quite a bit about him. After learning about the Manson family's murder of Sharon Tate, I became interested in her famous widowed husband, trying to imagine what it would be like to have your wife and unborn child ruthlessly slain in your own home. I knew Polanski had committed a rape and fled the country, but as all of it happened before I was born, I didn't know the details.

    The first half of this book recounts Geimer's childhood and the rape itself. The story is well-told, although I would have appreciated even more insight into Geimer's psyche and the effects of the rape. The first half is structured and flows logically, and Geimer tells the story well. However, it is in the second half that the book starts to fall apart.

    The second half of the book includes excerpts from articles and even from Polanski's autobiography, focusing on the failure of the justice system and the abuse by the media. Geimer does not like to be referred to as a victim, but reading her story one can't help but feel she has been victimized. Being raped is undoubtedly a horrible thing, but being raped by someone famous and being in the limelight for thirty-five years, and being blamed for being raped, is disgusting. Geimer is clearly frustrated, and she should be, but that frustration comes out in the second half as a long rant.

    I would have appreciated a better structure in the second half. I agree with Geimer that the American justice system needs to change, that there is something wrong with how many victims are treated in this country (especially rape victims), and that celebrities should never be above the law. I think Geimer makes some important arguments, but it is difficult to understand Geimer's point when her contentions jump around without much structure.

    Overall, I would give this book 2.5 stars.

  • Cristi

    Wow, just wow. What did I just read? Several hundred pages in which the author blames everyone but her rapist for the messy stuff that happens as a result of her rape? Why is she so quick to forgive Polanski but holds grudges against the media and the justice system? I understand her desire to put it all past her and live a normal life, but it was Polanski who robbed her of her normalcy, and it is Polanski who still evades justice. Infuriating. Heartbreaking. And fascinating. I'm glad I read it,

    Wow, just wow. What did I just read? Several hundred pages in which the author blames everyone but her rapist for the messy stuff that happens as a result of her rape? Why is she so quick to forgive Polanski but holds grudges against the media and the justice system? I understand her desire to put it all past her and live a normal life, but it was Polanski who robbed her of her normalcy, and it is Polanski who still evades justice. Infuriating. Heartbreaking. And fascinating. I'm glad I read it, but boy did it hit a nerve.

  • Rebecca McNutt

    Much as I like

    and I can sympathize with Roman Polanski over the heinous murder of his wife (Sharon Tate), as a person he's just another one of those degenerates who can only get away with what he's done because he's famous. You can bet your life that your average Joe who did this to a minor wouldn't draw up such polarizing controversy. In all fairness to Polanski, we don't know the full story. However, child abuse and sexual abuse are crimes, plain and simple. It doesn't matter

    Much as I like

    and I can sympathize with Roman Polanski over the heinous murder of his wife (Sharon Tate), as a person he's just another one of those degenerates who can only get away with what he's done because he's famous. You can bet your life that your average Joe who did this to a minor wouldn't draw up such polarizing controversy. In all fairness to Polanski, we don't know the full story. However, child abuse and sexual abuse are crimes, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if you live among the classy bohemian socialites or not.

    Samantha Geimer takes a bold step forward as "the girl" who has both inspired and angered people for years. As a child she was taken advantage of by Polanski. Some of her writing is brutally disturbing and stuff nobody should ever have to endure. It was sad to find though that she seems to partially believe it was her fault, and that she still holds Polanski in high regard. However, to the reviewers judging her for this, it's not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to be torn between hating and loving their abuser.

    also has some very unsettling and poignant things to say about our culture and legal system. "If I had to choose between reliving the rape or the grand jury testimony, I would choose the rape." I think it's also about time we as a society stop letting these people get away with crime simply because they're celebrities. The way we romanticize celebrity affairs as somehow enigmatic and strangely beautiful is something that people like Samantha Geimer

    don't benefit from. No, it was not forbidden love. No, it was not just the "free love" era. No, even if you enjoy his films it's still no reason to defend his actions.

    shares a maddening mentality of somebody psychologically damaged not just by the rape itself, but by their own internalized attitude of "I deserved it."

    I'd actually sort of be interested to read what Polanski's view on this "relationship" is. I don't think this kind of thing occurs in a bubble and it would be intriguing to understand why he did this and if he even had any regard for the impact it would have on Samantha's life. With the recent Bill Cosby scandal it seems that these incidents bring up many more questions than answers.

  • Peacegal

    If you wonder why we need MeToo and the ability of victims to be allowed to tell their stories without being shouted down, just look at how Geimer, a child, was treated in court during the hearing of the Polanski rape case.

  • Rachel

    Samantha Geimer is incredibly brave, and I admire her so much for telling her story and reclaiming her voice after having it so repeatedly taken from her over the years.

    However, I was disturbed to read the moments in which she slips into victim-blaming, judging the veracity of other survivors and employing some of the same arguments (it was a different, more lenient time; sometimes things are just misunderstandings; maybe they're coming forward for the publicity, etc) that were used against her.

    Samantha Geimer is incredibly brave, and I admire her so much for telling her story and reclaiming her voice after having it so repeatedly taken from her over the years.

    However, I was disturbed to read the moments in which she slips into victim-blaming, judging the veracity of other survivors and employing some of the same arguments (it was a different, more lenient time; sometimes things are just misunderstandings; maybe they're coming forward for the publicity, etc) that were used against her. Internalized victim blaming is a

    real thing, and I have so much sympathy for that, but I cannot accept her judgments on other survivors.

    She also becomes very prescriptive towards the end - I would never, ever judge the way she chooses to think about or cope with her own situation, and if has forgiven her perpetrator or let the experiences go (whatever that means to her; there are a lot of different things that could mean) then there is nothing at all wrong with that and I am glad that those are meaningful choices which allow her to feel at peace with what happened. But she doesn't get to say that this is what everyone should do, that people who are still angry at their assaulters or feel that their trauma has fundamentally altered their perception of their selves and their lives are somehow behaving wrongly. No one, not even a fellow survivor, can decide what healing means.

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