Motherhood is an idea that permeates If You Tell by Greg Olsen by it's absence. Olsen recounts the life of Shelly Knotek, who killed three, and abused countless others, including her own children. Knotek could easily be cast in the role of femme fatal, her good looks attracting many unsuspecting men into her orbit, but that would be too surface a reading of what is a clearly aberant pshycology. Instead Olsen makes his readers the proverbial frog in water slowly begining to boil, as he trace the development of Knotek from a troubled and difficult child and teen into a fully fledged murderer.
With the hindsight that living in a different era gives us we can easily see that for some of these women, it was the strict, inflexible mores of Victorian society that led them to their fates, and had they lived in different times, may have had very different outcomes.