This is an exuberant group portrait of four extraordinary writers, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, and Edna Ferber, whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors captured the spirit of the 1920s. Marion Meade re-creates the aura of excitement, romance, and promise of the 1920s, a decade celebrated for cultural innovation, the birth of jazz, the beginning of modernism, and social and sexual liberation, bringing to light, as well, the anxiety and despair that lurked beneath the nonstop partying and outrageous, unconventional behavior. The literary heroines in Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin did what they wanted, said what they thought. They drank gallons of cocktails and knew how to have fun in New York, the Riviera, and Hollywood, where they met and played with all the people worth knowing. They kicked open the door for 20th-century female writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. In a style and tone that perfectly captures the jazzy rhythms and desperate gaiety that defined the era, Meade tells the individual stories of Parker, Fitzgerald, Millay, and Ferber, traces the intersections of their lives, and describes the men, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, Harold Ross, and Robert Benchley, who influenced them, loved them, and sometimes betrayed them. She describes their social and literary triumphs (Parker's Round Table witticisms appeared almost daily in the newspapers and Ferber and Millay won Pulitzer Prizes) and writes movingly of the penances they paid: the crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and, finally, overdoses and even madness. A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and gossip, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a rich evocation of a period that continues to intrigue and captivate listeners.More
"An enjoyable and informative read." (Publishers Weekly)
"Reading Meade's book is like looking at a photo album while listening to a witty insider reminisce about the images. Her writing is bright, her language charged with gritty details....Instead of portraying them as austere literary figures, Meade makes the women seem like part of the family." (San Francisco Chronicle)
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A lot of fun!