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A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers. From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confid A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers. From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confident Women, the art of the con has a long and venerable tradition, and its female practitioners are some of the best—or worst. In the 1700s in Paris, Jeanne de Saint-Rémy scammed the royal jewelers out of a necklace made from six hundred and forty-seven diamonds by pretending she was best friends with Queen Marie Antoinette. In the mid-1800s, sisters Kate and Maggie Fox began pretending they could speak to spirits and accidentally started a religious movement that was soon crawling with female con artists. A gal calling herself Loreta Janeta Velasquez claimed to be a soldier and convinced people she worked for the Confederacy—or the Union, depending on who she was talking to. Meanwhile, Cassie Chadwick was forging paperwork and getting banks to loan her upwards of $40,000 by telling people she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter. In the 1900s, a 40something woman named Margaret Lydia Burton embezzled money all over the country and stole upwards of forty prized show dogs, while a few decades later, a teenager named Roxie Ann Rice scammed the entire NFL. And since the death of the Romanovs, women claiming to be Anastasia have been selling their stories to magazines. What about today? Spoiler alert: these “artists” are still conning.  Confident Women asks the provocative question: Where does chutzpah intersect with a uniquely female pathology—and how were these notorious women able to so spectacularly dupe and swindle their victims?


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A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers. From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confid A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers. From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confident Women, the art of the con has a long and venerable tradition, and its female practitioners are some of the best—or worst. In the 1700s in Paris, Jeanne de Saint-Rémy scammed the royal jewelers out of a necklace made from six hundred and forty-seven diamonds by pretending she was best friends with Queen Marie Antoinette. In the mid-1800s, sisters Kate and Maggie Fox began pretending they could speak to spirits and accidentally started a religious movement that was soon crawling with female con artists. A gal calling herself Loreta Janeta Velasquez claimed to be a soldier and convinced people she worked for the Confederacy—or the Union, depending on who she was talking to. Meanwhile, Cassie Chadwick was forging paperwork and getting banks to loan her upwards of $40,000 by telling people she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter. In the 1900s, a 40something woman named Margaret Lydia Burton embezzled money all over the country and stole upwards of forty prized show dogs, while a few decades later, a teenager named Roxie Ann Rice scammed the entire NFL. And since the death of the Romanovs, women claiming to be Anastasia have been selling their stories to magazines. What about today? Spoiler alert: these “artists” are still conning.  Confident Women asks the provocative question: Where does chutzpah intersect with a uniquely female pathology—and how were these notorious women able to so spectacularly dupe and swindle their victims?

30 review for Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diana N.

    These confident women used their confidence to con others. With all the glitz and glamor, who wouldn't take them at their word. What I liked about this book is that it looked at con women from all different places and time periods. It is broken into sections with women who had similar cons. It was interesting to hear about the detail these women paid attention to to get away with their con whether it be fortune telling, impersonating a princess, or bank fraud. An impressive amount of research we These confident women used their confidence to con others. With all the glitz and glamor, who wouldn't take them at their word. What I liked about this book is that it looked at con women from all different places and time periods. It is broken into sections with women who had similar cons. It was interesting to hear about the detail these women paid attention to to get away with their con whether it be fortune telling, impersonating a princess, or bank fraud. An impressive amount of research went into this to bring these women to life!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    3.5 stars rounded up for the way they were grouped. They were put into categories by nomenclature which cores the personalities and methods of their lives. Most were psychologically quite accurate too. The author is a clear and direct writer too. Very appreciated. I knew of some of these women before reading this book. Several of them are included in other classic con people histories or identity crime notorious listings. Under all of these names too. (Like Robert Blake's Bonnie who I have read a 3.5 stars rounded up for the way they were grouped. They were put into categories by nomenclature which cores the personalities and methods of their lives. Most were psychologically quite accurate too. The author is a clear and direct writer too. Very appreciated. I knew of some of these women before reading this book. Several of them are included in other classic con people histories or identity crime notorious listings. Under all of these names too. (Like Robert Blake's Bonnie who I have read about in more than 3 or 4 listings.) For the great majority of them, it is not at all unusual to find that even over a short lifetime- more than 5 or 6 identities or names have been used successfully by them. Often in different locations. What became revealed here that I did NOT know was how many of them actually in the last couple of centuries have Chicago connection. Surprise, surprise. But on the other hand, I was not surprised by the almost constant repetition for nearly every one of these 18 or 20 most highlighted to/in all myriad of details researched; how those recognizable habits existed and were honed continually- almost from birth. It seems to me that these lying /make believe, invented history perceptions as truth, disguises and stealing with cons skills are almost born in place, not made. Not entirely, of course, but still it is immensely there from the get-go. As children, young they just bloom bigger and bigger with methods or obsessions that existed from first breath. Styles, or acting and charm skills may change with age or condition but they never leave center stage. Not at all. This was much easier to do for decades and into middle age or past before about 1920, IMHO. ID's or licenses or state documentation for any degree of locale sustainability since then being much more difficult to circumvent. But not at all impossible. Some mighty con skills are operating as I type.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    I loved Tori Telfer's first book "Lady Killers" and this one was just as amazing! Telfer covers a variety of cases involving women from the 1700s to just a few years ago. There’s a chapter on the real story of Anastasia (including those who pretended to be her), a woman who faked being a 9/11 survivor, and an entire section on women pretending to be fortune tellers/mediums. I was shocked by how common the female con-artist is and the author does a brilliant job of weaving each story seamlessly i I loved Tori Telfer's first book "Lady Killers" and this one was just as amazing! Telfer covers a variety of cases involving women from the 1700s to just a few years ago. There’s a chapter on the real story of Anastasia (including those who pretended to be her), a woman who faked being a 9/11 survivor, and an entire section on women pretending to be fortune tellers/mediums. I was shocked by how common the female con-artist is and the author does a brilliant job of weaving each story seamlessly into the next. I highly recommend this true crime book if you have an interest in notorious female cons! Thank you so much to Harper Perennial for my gifted copy!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    People a very complicated beings, the lengths some will go to get what they want is mind blowing. Tori Telfer did an amazing job finding these unknown stories. I specifically was interested in reading more about Elizabeth Holmes, if you haven’t read Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, I HIGHLY recommend it. If you are a true crime fan like me then you are in for a treat with this book, get ready for some WILD stories. Thank you, Harper Collins for the gifted book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carla Harlin

    Fascinating! That's the first word that comes to my mind when I think of this book. As you read about all these con-women from different times, their crafty schemes, and luck, you get through a rollercoaster of feelings. Curiosity, hate, surprise, excitement. This could be an ocean of inspiration for moviemakers and fiction writers! For free self-help books, I recommend this list: https://alexamood.com/list-of-free-se... Fascinating! That's the first word that comes to my mind when I think of this book. As you read about all these con-women from different times, their crafty schemes, and luck, you get through a rollercoaster of feelings. Curiosity, hate, surprise, excitement. This could be an ocean of inspiration for moviemakers and fiction writers! For free self-help books, I recommend this list: https://alexamood.com/list-of-free-se...

  6. 5 out of 5

    chan

    3 / 5 stars I can't say I will remember a lot of details about these women - to be honest, I already had trouble remembering who was who while reading the acknowledgments - but I also can't say I didn't enjoy this book, even though enjoyment might me de wrong word in some cases discussed. I'm mostly glad I picked it up during a time when I was struggeling with reading, because Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion was so easy to get through. It kind of 3 / 5 stars I can't say I will remember a lot of details about these women - to be honest, I already had trouble remembering who was who while reading the acknowledgments - but I also can't say I didn't enjoy this book, even though enjoyment might me de wrong word in some cases discussed. I'm mostly glad I picked it up during a time when I was struggeling with reading, because Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion was so easy to get through. It kind of reads like a series of short(ish) podcast episodes. In the four categories Tori Telfer chose to cover there are stories of at least three con women, sometimes even more when they are bundled together due to their similair schemes, each story averaging at around 16 pages, so it's very easy to read a couple of chapters and then put the book down. The narrative tone is very casual, at times attempting to be humorous even, which worked better in some cases than others. For example, the nonchalant hints at alleged trauma in these women's lives or in some instances the back and forth between conversational anecdotes and gruesome details felt very inappropriate to me. Overall it's a pretty superficial look at these women without going too deep into societal or gender biases they faced in the historical times they lived. Contrary to some reviews I read that wasn't a problem for me though, because I didn't expect it to go there.. I mean, how would that be possible given the length of this book and the amount of women covered in it? Like I said in the beginning, I picked this book up at the right time, I also didn't go into it thinking I would get in-depth psychological analysis of these con women and (besides the issues i mentioned above) that's why this was perfectly fine for me. content notes:◦ explicit: emotional abuse, murder, toxic relationship ◦ moderate: car accident, child death, confinement, gun violence, human trafficking, physical abuse, rape, slavery, suicide, violence ◦ minor: alcoholism, animal death, cancer, child abuse, domestic abuse, mental illness, torture

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Peden

    I really enjoyed this! I was a bit skeptical bc I didn’t love Lady Killers. Confident Women takes on infamous con women throughout History & I found it fascinating. My favorite was Roxie Ann Rice. If you like true crime I highly recommend!

  8. 5 out of 5

    laura likes lit ⁷

    My FBI Agent watching me put this book on my TBR: 🧍🏻‍♀️

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kales

    I liked this way more than LADY KILLERS. There was something fascinating, like Telfer pointed out, about conwomen. It's something glamorous and we're jealous that they "got away with it". I also saw so many untold stories of women movies that Hollywood should jump on stat. I enjoyed how she broke it into four categories. It was easy to follow and gave me a narrative to journey along. It was nicely broken up and gave me enough breathing room between the chapters. I also appreciated the pages of r I liked this way more than LADY KILLERS. There was something fascinating, like Telfer pointed out, about conwomen. It's something glamorous and we're jealous that they "got away with it". I also saw so many untold stories of women movies that Hollywood should jump on stat. I enjoyed how she broke it into four categories. It was easy to follow and gave me a narrative to journey along. It was nicely broken up and gave me enough breathing room between the chapters. I also appreciated the pages of research at the end which I might have to look over when I want to read more about some of these women. Conclusion: Keep ARC

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Mcdougall

    I didn’t not enjoy this book despite the star rating. I just felt that there was a missed opportunity to explore why these women should fascinate us. For many, they were responding and surviving in a patriarchal society and that wasn’t really explored. A good read but a bit flawed. The title didn’t work for me either. Can only con women be confident? Is the bar of confidence for women really that high?!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ebb

    An interesting look at female cons throughout the past. Telfer presents the information in a straightforward but riveting manner. A couple years ago, I read her book Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History and found that a good read as well. She presents information in an engaging manner and the subjects in the book are all fascinating in different ways. I wasn't familiar with any of the women featured in the book, so I learned quite a lot with each entry. Highly recommended for any true c An interesting look at female cons throughout the past. Telfer presents the information in a straightforward but riveting manner. A couple years ago, I read her book Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History and found that a good read as well. She presents information in an engaging manner and the subjects in the book are all fascinating in different ways. I wasn't familiar with any of the women featured in the book, so I learned quite a lot with each entry. Highly recommended for any true crime fans. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    VL

    If you're fascinated with true crime, this needs to be on your list. Telfer gathers a selection of women who saw the world the way it was and chose to adjust it to the way they wanted. Included are about a dozen of the mostly forgotten con women in history. Some are harmless (others aren't) but so many of them flew under the radar for a long time. If you're fascinated with true crime, this needs to be on your list. Telfer gathers a selection of women who saw the world the way it was and chose to adjust it to the way they wanted. Included are about a dozen of the mostly forgotten con women in history. Some are harmless (others aren't) but so many of them flew under the radar for a long time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tina Rae

    Okay, I am OBSESSED with this book. I loved it so much and I wanted it to keep going on and on and on with more stories to devour. I found this whole book so fascinating. I ended up reading this over a few weeks, reading a story or two every day. And I honestly loved doing that. It was such a nice part of each day. All of these women are absolutely fascinating. Many are fun and hilarious. A few are a little horrifying. But for the most part, this book was just a fun little romp. This is exactly h Okay, I am OBSESSED with this book. I loved it so much and I wanted it to keep going on and on and on with more stories to devour. I found this whole book so fascinating. I ended up reading this over a few weeks, reading a story or two every day. And I honestly loved doing that. It was such a nice part of each day. All of these women are absolutely fascinating. Many are fun and hilarious. A few are a little horrifying. But for the most part, this book was just a fun little romp. This is exactly how I love learning history. I loved that I hadn't heard of any of these women previously and met them all in these pages. And I hope others enjoy discovering them as well. So. If you are also fascinated by con artists, I HIGHLY recommend this one. I loved the entire thing so, so much. But my favorite sections ended up being the Spiritualists (I would've read an entire book about just these women; this whole section was FASCINATING), the Anastasias (I especially loved the ending which covered what actually happened to the Romanovs) and Margaret Lydia Burton. If you're looking to read more nonfiction or more true crime, look no further!! This one is amazing and I could not recommend it more highly! Thank you to Harper Perennial for sending a copy of this one my way in exchange for an honest review. This was such a fun time!!! It was an absolute treat!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Confident Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “Life goes on, the death toll climbs, and somewhere, the next tragedienne glances over her script, smears her mascara, and waits for the curtain to rise.” This brilliant true crime book tells the history of confidence artists: some of the best or the worst in the business. From the 1700s to present day, scams are everywhere, and diabolically clever con women make their mark. This was so fascinating! I meant to read a section a day, but I finished this book in two. I flew t Confident Women ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “Life goes on, the death toll climbs, and somewhere, the next tragedienne glances over her script, smears her mascara, and waits for the curtain to rise.” This brilliant true crime book tells the history of confidence artists: some of the best or the worst in the business. From the 1700s to present day, scams are everywhere, and diabolically clever con women make their mark. This was so fascinating! I meant to read a section a day, but I finished this book in two. I flew through their stories, and was so fascinated with how much I learned. These women sure were bold and I’m not sure I could pull off even a quarter of some of the stuff these women pulled off.. also, how did some of these people fall for these scams?? I’m amazed. This book was so fun, and I didn’t want it to end. My favorite section was about the Romanovs, and I didn’t realize it until after I finished that section that it closely aligns with I was Anastasia. I also really loved Jeanne de Saint-Rémy, who tricked jewelers out of a necklace with 647 diamonds by pretending she was friends with Queen Marie Antoinette! It was fascinating and there’s no way that would fly today. If you’re even slightly interested in con artists, true crime, and scams, this is for you! Thank you @harperperennial for my #gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. #OliveInfluencer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shari Suarez

    If you love true crime this is the book for you! Tori Telfer tells the story of con-women over the years in an engaging and straightforward manner. Some of the con-women you know (Bonnie Lee Bakley, for example) and some I had no idea about. A lot of fun and a quick read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    In simple terms, this is a non-fiction anthology full of tales of con women. I loved that these stories happened in all different decades and some as recent as 2018. My mind was blown that some of these things actually happened and that the women involved got away with it for as long as they did. Definitely enjoyed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Tori Telfer explores the lives of female grifters, swindlers, and con artists in this compulsively readable book. Telfer delves into the lives of some truly interesting characters and details the ways they completed their scams. This book was at turns fascinating and horrifying, but it was always fun to read. Telfer's unique narrative voice blends perfectly with the tales of these con women to create a book that flies by far too quickly. Tori Telfer explores the lives of female grifters, swindlers, and con artists in this compulsively readable book. Telfer delves into the lives of some truly interesting characters and details the ways they completed their scams. This book was at turns fascinating and horrifying, but it was always fun to read. Telfer's unique narrative voice blends perfectly with the tales of these con women to create a book that flies by far too quickly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    christine liu

    Reading Confident Women by Tori Telfer is a strange and slightly unsettling experience. The back of the book describes it as "a collection of diabolically clever con women who have made (us) their mark", and some parts of the book are certainly that. It's organized into four sections: "The Glitterati", "The Seers", "The Fabulists", and "The Drifters", each containing a few chapters detailing the lives and exploits of female con artists throughout history. I started this book thinking, "wow, this Reading Confident Women by Tori Telfer is a strange and slightly unsettling experience. The back of the book describes it as "a collection of diabolically clever con women who have made (us) their mark", and some parts of the book are certainly that. It's organized into four sections: "The Glitterati", "The Seers", "The Fabulists", and "The Drifters", each containing a few chapters detailing the lives and exploits of female con artists throughout history. I started this book thinking, "wow, this is really fun," but ended it feeling, ironically, a little conned. In the introduction, Telfer writes that "perhaps there's a darker reason we cheer on the con artist: secretly, we want to be her." I can see how this idea applies to the women in the Glitterati section - Jeanne de Saint-Remy who posed as Marie Antoinette's best friend and swindled royal jewelers out of 647 diamonds, Cassie Chadwick who pretended to be Andrew Carnegie's illegitimate daughter, and Wang Ti who befriended Chinese celebrities and Olympic athletes while scamming them out of millions of dollars. It may even apply to some extent to the infamous Fox sisters who made thousands believe they could commune with the dead or the women who claimed to be the Russian princess Anastasia. But there are women in this book who committed some truly heinous crimes. Fake psychic Rose Marks preyed on vulnerable people who spent their life savings hoping she could cure them of terminal illnesses rather than seeking necessary medical treatment and even took millions of dollars from author Jude Devereaux while she grieved multiple miscarriages and the loss of her eight year old son. Ann O'Delia Diss Debar lured young girls into a cult and stood by while her partner raped them. There's a whole chapter on "tragediennes" who used real tragedies to exploit sympathy and goodwill for their own monetary gain. And Sante Kimes murdered three people for their assets. What was most jarring to me while reading this book was its tone. Telfer writes in an irreverent voice that makes use of dark humor that at times feels inappropriate given the sometimes extremely troubling content. There are many parts of the book where she casually hints at trauma in these women's pasts - poverty, loss of family members, mental illness, abuse - but glides right over to make other comments that are meant to be humorous. Telfer hosts a podcast about female criminals, and while I have never listened to the podcast, I can see how her storytelling style could fit an audio format where inflections and nuances can be conveyed through the voice. But on the written page, it reads as glib. I also have some minor issues with Telfer's research. In the chapter on Lauretta J. Williams, or Loreta Janeta Velazquez, the information on Loreta herself comes almost exclusively from a single source, a biography written in 2016 by William C. Davis that is considered to be a revisionist history. It's the only source that calls her a con artist, and compared to the others in this book, she didn't really con anyone except for changing her name, pretending to be a man, and writing a possibly untruthful book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This is easy reading; light in tone & substance yet intensely engrossing. This features a diverse cast of women criminals from the truly awful: murders & enslavers to the somewhat ridiculous scammers. I quite enjoyed the light tone. At the same time, much like in her previous book, The Lady Killers, this author just ignores the historical, gender biased, oppressive society that created these women. None of them were rich folks who chose to be awful. In fact a few were born into criminal families si This is easy reading; light in tone & substance yet intensely engrossing. This features a diverse cast of women criminals from the truly awful: murders & enslavers to the somewhat ridiculous scammers. I quite enjoyed the light tone. At the same time, much like in her previous book, The Lady Killers, this author just ignores the historical, gender biased, oppressive society that created these women. None of them were rich folks who chose to be awful. In fact a few were born into criminal families simply continuing the family business. Yet class was ignored entirely beyond wondering how someone barely literate could pull off a con like this. To evaluate the crimes, these women would have to be placed in their appropriate time and the restrictions of their race, gender & class accounted for or at least dealt with in realistic ways. Instead these societal oppressions are just ignored, in fact the author speaks derisively of sexual assault allegations revealed by the women after being caught. I mean one of the women spoke about being molested by a father, step father or mother's boyfriend starting in her teen years. The author dismisses this derisively as if a con artist lies all of the time or about everything. The Black Women from the 1800's & early 1900's pretending to be Spiritualists or Psychics would have been working in a career closed to them and that created themselves. What would they otherwise have done for work in those time periods? What would their earning ability be? The Commodore Vanderbilt founder of the dynasty regularly stole from women, including his own daughter, who gave him money to invest AFTER he was the wealthiest man in the US. He lied, printed fake bonds, we have federal laws and departments to keep up with the shenanigans of him and his Gilded Age pals. Yet none of them are known as anything other than power capitalists. These women were labeled criminal in the same era these men are labeled heros for much the same behaviors. This is due to class and race which besides being labeled is missing in the analysis of the crimes and criminals. None the less I enjoyed this and found a few women I'd never heard of before. Most of the crimes are light grifter type stuff a few have harrowing details but the author keeps a light tone throughout. I am left with a furious desire to study the history of US Spiritualism & Spiritualists.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    Thank you, Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book! I was really intrigued by Lady Killers, so I was over the moon when I received Confident Women by Tori Telfer! Broken up into 4 parts, Telfer breaks down the stories behind some of the biggest con-women in history. The Glitterati, The Seers, The Fabulists, and The Drifters all make history in one way or another. Some are deadly, some are just in it for the money. My favorite story out of the Glitterati is Jeanne de Saint-Remy. She Thank you, Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book! I was really intrigued by Lady Killers, so I was over the moon when I received Confident Women by Tori Telfer! Broken up into 4 parts, Telfer breaks down the stories behind some of the biggest con-women in history. The Glitterati, The Seers, The Fabulists, and The Drifters all make history in one way or another. Some are deadly, some are just in it for the money. My favorite story out of the Glitterati is Jeanne de Saint-Remy. She was born in 1756 into a difficult family. While her name went back generations, the fortune was long gone. She wanted money. She wanted power. The previous king of France had a beautiful, yet over-the-top necklace made for his mistress but died before he could pay for it. It seems like Jeanne and this necklace would be highly unlikely to cross paths. But with a rumor or two, the right connections, both Jeanne and the necklace contributed to the steady decline of Marie Antoinette’s reputation. The Seers is an interesting section. This section described the multitude of women who claimed to be psychics, seers, or mediums. Two young women were just the beginning of the religion, Modern Spiritualists which in 4 years would grow to over 2,000 members. The Fabulists had one story that always catches my interest no matter how many times I hear or read about it. The Anastasias. It is very well-known that the rumors of the missing Romanov daughter spurred the rise of MANY Anastasias–one being Anna Anderson. The finally, The Drifters. These women had multitudes of identities! While these stories are intriguing. I wasn’t really a fan of how these women were portrayed. They were portrayed as power-hungry, greedy women, rather than women who were born into specific circumstances and trying to work their way to a better life. Yes, these women have victims and these women did scam many people. But there are many people who scam, but because they are elite businessmen who don’t have to face any repercussions. So. I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K. Rose

    Like Telfer's first book, LADY KILLERS, Confident Women is meticulously researched. This book has an even more varied array of women from across history - you may even remember some of them from recent headlines (and/or your grandparents certainly might!). Reading about con-women could be solemn, stressful, or grim. But Telfer focuses on the most fascinating bits: what were her aliases, how did she do manage to fool people over and over - and what fabulous items did she spend all of that money o Like Telfer's first book, LADY KILLERS, Confident Women is meticulously researched. This book has an even more varied array of women from across history - you may even remember some of them from recent headlines (and/or your grandparents certainly might!). Reading about con-women could be solemn, stressful, or grim. But Telfer focuses on the most fascinating bits: what were her aliases, how did she do manage to fool people over and over - and what fabulous items did she spend all of that money on?! (Tens of cocker spaniels, bulk orders of pianos, a hot pink car, multiple vacation homes, golden chairs, gambling addictions, etc.) Although these items may seem ridiculous, it does not go unremarked that a fair amount of these con-women were obsessed with money specifically because they came from poverty. In fact, one thought I had from reading both of Telfer's books is that women used these crimes - killing and conning, respectively - often as a means to achieve economic independence in times when society did not offer them legitimate alternatives. That's not an excuse necessarily - but ignoring it means oversimplifying these women's stories, and characters. And Telfer doesn't let her readers commit THAT crime. Telfer tells the facts with humor and a wink; a narrator who doesn't paint these women with a black-and-white morality but shows us their humanity, even for the few who are undoubtedly cruel. Everyone gets their story told, from their childhood to their sentencing. And as we read we are left to ponder with ourselves: Could I do this? (I think I could!) WOULD I do this? (Eh. It DOES seem like a lot of work...so, probably not.) Life in 2021 continues to be a pandemic nightmare, so take this book for a spin. Get to know these historic "swindlers, grifters, and shapeshifters of the feminine persuasion" who otherwise may have passed quietly into the archives of history. And what a pity for us if they had.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany (OomilyReads)

    Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion written by Tori Telfer, narrated by Jaime Lamchick “The fact that we like con artists so much is probably the greatest con of all time”. We’re seduced by con artists in movies (Ocean’s Eleven, Catch Me If You Can, American Hustle…) as they usually aren’t violent, but how alluring is their swindle & frauds. Likewise, unless you are the victim, we’re drawn to real-life con artists especially con-women who have a cham Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion written by Tori Telfer, narrated by Jaime Lamchick “The fact that we like con artists so much is probably the greatest con of all time”. We’re seduced by con artists in movies (Ocean’s Eleven, Catch Me If You Can, American Hustle…) as they usually aren’t violent, but how alluring is their swindle & frauds. Likewise, unless you are the victim, we’re drawn to real-life con artists especially con-women who have a chameleon existence. Living fabulously by being charming, self-assured & are usually quite intelligent & quick-witted in order to pull their next con. Telfer’s writing is crafty & enthusiastic specked with hilarity portraying the stories of wild, bold con-women & their outrageous schemes. Jaime Lamchick's talented narration brings these stories to life. The book is broken into sections by types of cons (The Glitterati, The Spiritualists, The Fabulists, The Drifters) with infamous women & their impact on history. Taking down the monarchy during the French Revolution in 1789 was in part because of Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy and her long con! Modern Spiritualism today was started by 11 &14-yo, Kate & Megan Fox in 1848 who played pranks on their mom and pretended they could talk to the dead! Roxie Rice scammed the entire NFL in 1975 as a 19yo! The last story was extremely dark, disturbing & left me on edge. Some consider Sante Kimes a con-artist, but she was a serial killer who enslaved and controlled people. Outside of her story, I loved learning how the other women shaped society by being shapeshifters themselves. “The cars. The diamonds. The persuasive smile. Other people may fall for that sort of thing, but she won’t get us this time. We’re wiser now. Too confident to lose. Let’s let her in, hear what she has to say”.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Dars

    Unflappable, bold, larger-than-life, and often glamorous, con women capture the imagination, soliciting awe as much as condemnation despite their criminal behavior. In 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘞𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯, Tori Telfer explores the public fascination with these opportunists through several profiles of female grifters throughout the ages—and these are only the ones who were ultimately discovered. I wish I had just a scintilla of the confidence these women had in planning and implementing their schemes! Telfer divides Unflappable, bold, larger-than-life, and often glamorous, con women capture the imagination, soliciting awe as much as condemnation despite their criminal behavior. In 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘞𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯, Tori Telfer explores the public fascination with these opportunists through several profiles of female grifters throughout the ages—and these are only the ones who were ultimately discovered. I wish I had just a scintilla of the confidence these women had in planning and implementing their schemes! Telfer divides her book into four sections: The Glitterati, The Seers, The Fabulists, and The Drifters. The book is so interesting across the board, I can’t even pick my favorite swindlers, but I did particularly love the moxie of the Glitterati, one who implicated Queen Marie Antoinette in her machinations and one who claimed to be an illegitimate child of Andrew Carnegie. A series of women in the early 1900s claimed to be Anastasia Romanov, escaped from the communists, and Lauretta Williams posed as a male Civil War soldier and spy. More recent women like Wang Ti and Bonny Lee Bakely also have chapters. Most of the case studies were new to me though two were familiar because they’d been adapted into Law & Order episodes. I enjoyed learning about these women and thought the format was perfect because despite their colorful lives I’m not sure I’d want to read an entire biography of each one. Tefler brings a humorous tone to the writing, though she doesn’t neglect the victims or the serious consequences they suffered. Depending on the consequences or the context, the women faced varying degrees of justice, and despite their crimes, the public remained enthralled with many of them. (It’s interesting to note the cons that cross the line for public sympathy.) Tefler highlights the problematic nature of our obsession with con women, but leaves readers to contemplate the implications. True crime readers, especially ones looking for cases not focusing on murder, should pick this up. I also think readers interested in women’s history and feminism will be interested in the crimes over time and how women were portrayed by the contemporary press. Also, kudos to the designer. I love the eye-catching cover! Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Perennial for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    When I was in my twenties, I had encounters with a full-on, Frank Abagnale-style con man. He'd successfully pretended to be an astronaut, military officer, doctor, and any number of other impressive professions. I was lucky; I lost nothing--and was even trained to scuba dive by this pseudo-navy seal! I've been fascinated by con artists and grifters ever since, though I might have been fascinated either way. There is something about these people and their stories that captivates. And Tori Telfer p When I was in my twenties, I had encounters with a full-on, Frank Abagnale-style con man. He'd successfully pretended to be an astronaut, military officer, doctor, and any number of other impressive professions. I was lucky; I lost nothing--and was even trained to scuba dive by this pseudo-navy seal! I've been fascinated by con artists and grifters ever since, though I might have been fascinated either way. There is something about these people and their stories that captivates. And Tori Telfer presents a wide array of confidence women in her tremendously entertaining book. These stories span centuries and continents. There are all different kinds of scams, some falling into broad categories, and others being as unique as the women who pulled them off. These women are audacious! And every one of these stories would make a film as riveting as Catch Me If You Can. The marks may seem overly credible, but take it from me, these people are pros. So the stories are great on the own, but kudos to Ms. Telfer for displaying them to best advantage. Her use of humor isn't too overt, but it's definitely there. Yet she takes no pleasure in the crimes committed. Real people were hurt--in some cases died--but she writes about both the criminals and their victims with empathy. She goes into a fair bit of detail on the lives and crimes of various women, but keeps her narrative skipping along at a brisk pace. Confident Women will never be mistaken for an important literary work, but it was a enjoyable diversion that did a fine job exploring a fascinating group of women.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Malia

    Anyone who's fascinated by scammers will appreciate this book! I found it so gripping to read, and there were only a couple of the women's stories that didn't grab me, especially the beginning ones. If you find it a slow start, keep going. I've long wished for a really great pop history deep dive into spiritualism, and this book's section had more stories than I've ever read/heard about before. The tragediennes section was structured beautifully and was incredibly heart wrenching. It's interesti Anyone who's fascinated by scammers will appreciate this book! I found it so gripping to read, and there were only a couple of the women's stories that didn't grab me, especially the beginning ones. If you find it a slow start, keep going. I've long wished for a really great pop history deep dive into spiritualism, and this book's section had more stories than I've ever read/heard about before. The tragediennes section was structured beautifully and was incredibly heart wrenching. It's interesting how the modern scammers we see aren't doing stuff that people haven't been doing for centuries. I thought this book was not making too much light of this salacious material, because the scammed people are often very real victims. The book was also quite thought provoking, in that its division in kinds of confidence women made me think of what kinds of people get preyed on by scammers. It isn't always desperate or hopeful people. In the case of the tragendiennes, those women are taking advantage of kind and generous people. I think what fascinates me about these stories relates to something I read recently that sociopathy is the absence of empathy while anxiety is an excess of empathy. By that token, I am truly bewildered by people living at the other end of the spectrum from me. ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.***

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Adams

    If you have any interest in stolen Cocker Spaniels, this is the book for you! No? How about a crossdressing Confederate soldier? Marie Antionette imposter? Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer is a non fiction book about different con(fident) artists throughout history. We travel throughout time and place learning about all sorts of shady ladies! From a royal jewelry swindle to stolen Cocker Spaniels to murder, this book has illegal ac If you have any interest in stolen Cocker Spaniels, this is the book for you! No? How about a crossdressing Confederate soldier? Marie Antionette imposter? Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer is a non fiction book about different con(fident) artists throughout history. We travel throughout time and place learning about all sorts of shady ladies! From a royal jewelry swindle to stolen Cocker Spaniels to murder, this book has illegal activities of all persuasions. The writing was super accessible, it almost felt like reading a podcast. I think I would have loved listening to this book but sadly my library only had the e-book available. I had high hopes for this one but was left a little disappointed and I‘m not quite sure why? I think I was hoping for more of a deep dive into the crimes snd motivations of these women and we really only got surface level introduction. Would I recommend? Yes, if you’re looking for single chapter stories about multiple shady ladies. If you’re looking for a deep dive into female con artists take a pass on this book and read a book focused on a single lady/con. Might I suggest Bad Blood by John Carreyrou? ⭐️⭐️⭐️

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Kennedy

    Fifteen short portraits of female con artists, from the eighteenth century to the present. Each chapter focuses on a different "lady swindler" with the exception of "The Tragediennes," which comprises three. The essays are funny and colloquial and feel like a sort of high Wikipedia true crime. The author's definitely done her research and has a sense of the details, big and small, that make these stories come to life. Like—I definitely needed to know that Jeanne de Saint-Rémy rolled around Versa Fifteen short portraits of female con artists, from the eighteenth century to the present. Each chapter focuses on a different "lady swindler" with the exception of "The Tragediennes," which comprises three. The essays are funny and colloquial and feel like a sort of high Wikipedia true crime. The author's definitely done her research and has a sense of the details, big and small, that make these stories come to life. Like—I definitely needed to know that Jeanne de Saint-Rémy rolled around Versailles in a hot air balloon–shaped carriage. And that Brad Pitt's email address, according to South Florida "psychic" Rose Marks, is [email protected] (Anyone tried this email? Is some poor HarperCollins publicity assistant currently responding as Brad Pitt??) The structure is smart, with chapters split between four sections corresponding to different types of con women—the Glitterati, the Seers, the Fabulists (incl. the Tragediennes), and the Drifters. And my absolute favorite thing about this book are the epigraphs commencing each section that list some of what you have to look forward to: "two bad Russian accents, one NFL player's credit card, seven fake pregnancies," etc.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erica WhimsicalyMe

    Tori Tefler wrote this book so well and her research was excellent!! I was entranced with each woman’s story and at times aghast at how long they got away with it. These women were something else. In the end these confident scammers have pushed people over the edge toward suicide, taken every last dime people had, one was a sexual predator and another was involved in multiple murders. They’ve even raised their children to be scammers like themselves or abandoned them altogether. The author summe Tori Tefler wrote this book so well and her research was excellent!! I was entranced with each woman’s story and at times aghast at how long they got away with it. These women were something else. In the end these confident scammers have pushed people over the edge toward suicide, taken every last dime people had, one was a sexual predator and another was involved in multiple murders. They’ve even raised their children to be scammers like themselves or abandoned them altogether. The author summed it up quite well, “To achieve these nefarious ends, the con woman weaponizes confidence itself.” Confidence can mean belief in oneself but the other meaning is belief in something. These women were confident in themselves. They were able to convince and manipulate those around them to believe in the scheme or fairytale they were selling each and every one of them!! I loved this book!! It was ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫for me. Thank you @harperperennial for my copy of the book to review!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tanja ~ T's Book ~ KT Book Reviews

    When they said swindlers, grifters, and shapeshifters of the feminine persuasion, honey, they weren't lying! I had the best time reading this book. I know it sounds weird, but to be able to discover what women have done, albeit a bit off, over the years in what usually is male behavior, that btw is praised in certain situations, is just plain fun. Absolutely brilliant! I loved every moment of it. ~Tanja Follow me on Instagram✿Twitter✿Facebook✿Pinterest✿ When they said swindlers, grifters, and shapeshifters of the feminine persuasion, honey, they weren't lying! I had the best time reading this book. I know it sounds weird, but to be able to discover what women have done, albeit a bit off, over the years in what usually is male behavior, that btw is praised in certain situations, is just plain fun. Absolutely brilliant! I loved every moment of it. ~Tanja Follow me on Instagram✿Twitter✿Facebook✿Pinterest✿

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I read Telfer's previous book LADY KILLERS in one manic binge, the way I listen to my favorite podcasts (not surprisingly, since Telfer herself is an accomplished podcaster)--all in a row, hour after hour, until I'm done, with nothing to show for it but having severely enjoyed myself and a few weirdo details that will pester me until I buy the book in paperback (check) and reread it (not yet, of course). Well. Did the exact same thing this time around. Tori Telfer is just too edutaining and I co I read Telfer's previous book LADY KILLERS in one manic binge, the way I listen to my favorite podcasts (not surprisingly, since Telfer herself is an accomplished podcaster)--all in a row, hour after hour, until I'm done, with nothing to show for it but having severely enjoyed myself and a few weirdo details that will pester me until I buy the book in paperback (check) and reread it (not yet, of course). Well. Did the exact same thing this time around. Tori Telfer is just too edutaining and I couldn't stop reading this, stopping only to google bits before realizing, hell, I need to own this in paperback and reread it with a pen. Frustrating, because I couldn't not binge it, yet really, really fun, because read bingeing is the only really great kind of bingeing there is. Will be thinking about the lists of MISCELLANY that preceded every section for a long time. Edit: got this from the library but it was also a simultaneous paperback release?!!! Be still my heart, off to the shops I go!

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