Several times during the course of reading this book, I was asked what this book was and most people displayed a response that showed they couldn’t believe an entire book was written on the topic of red hair; however, there isn’t any other hair colour that could produce so many stories, facts, myths, etc. (Sorry, brunettes don’t come close, and I think even blondes would pale in comparison – they may have more fun, but I don’t think the history is there).
Roach has thoroughly researched all aspects of red hair, from myths and stereotypes to history and science, using each bit of knowledge she gains to lead her further on her quest. What that quest is, one might not be sure exactly, but I’m sure most, or at least many redheads would appreciate it. Hair is an important feature of our identity, but with so many people changing their colour, does that change who they are? I really identified with Roach because of her discussion of her reactions when she is called a brunette. I’ve always happily been a strawberry blond, but there have been two occasions now when I’ve been called blonde, and although I don’t correct the speakers, it irks me greatly. I’m not blonde. I’m a redhead. Sure, of late, it’s a “blah” colour, not really red, but certainly not blonde. A friend’s father put it best last week calling it a sort of bronze. I’m considering adding henna just to bring back a bit more red.
Back to the book, it was really great the way mythology has influenced society and how perceptions change over time. I really had no clue that art often portrayed Eve (after the fall), Lilith, Mary Magdalene and Judas as redhaired. Why is the mark of the devil red hair? There are also a lot of other ideas floating around too. Why, generally speaking, do we have two very different ideas when we think of redhaired men and redhaired women? Really, what are the first images that pop into your head? When I think redheaded guys, I think of Opie, Archie or some other “geeky” type, whereas with women I don’t think geeky at all (unless we’re talking girls when I envision freckles and braids, but girls are girls, not women). With women, I picture the sexy, seductive type.
So if you’re a redhead of any type, or wish you were, or love someone who is, then, this book is a fantastic read! Really, you could end up talking about red for hours and hours, well, that is if there’s any one to listen to you.