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Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties

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In her exuberant new work, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers - Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber- whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s. These literary heroines did what they wanted and said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for In her exuberant new work, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers - Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber- whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s. These literary heroines did what they wanted and said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for twentieth-century women writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. Here are the social and literary triumphs and inevitably the penances paid: crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and finally, overdoses and even madness. A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and scandal, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a rich evocation of a period that will forever intrigue and captivate us.


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In her exuberant new work, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers - Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber- whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s. These literary heroines did what they wanted and said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for In her exuberant new work, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers - Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber- whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s. These literary heroines did what they wanted and said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for twentieth-century women writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. Here are the social and literary triumphs and inevitably the penances paid: crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and finally, overdoses and even madness. A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and scandal, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a rich evocation of a period that will forever intrigue and captivate us.

30 review for Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber. These names conjure a mystique, almost a mythology: bad girls, notorious woman of the Roaring Twenties. What fresh hells (with apologies to Dorothy Parker) were behind these exemplars of the energy, freedom, and creativity of those years? Marion Meade chronicles the lives of these women, from the height of their fame through the self-destruction or disappointment of their lives. Since many of the high points and crashes have a Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber. These names conjure a mystique, almost a mythology: bad girls, notorious woman of the Roaring Twenties. What fresh hells (with apologies to Dorothy Parker) were behind these exemplars of the energy, freedom, and creativity of those years? Marion Meade chronicles the lives of these women, from the height of their fame through the self-destruction or disappointment of their lives. Since many of the high points and crashes have attached to these myths, many readers may believe they already know these women. I thought I did. I am a junkie for biographies of women writers, especially writers of the twenties. When two biographies of Edna St. Vincent Millay were published within months of each other, I was ecstatic. I have read two biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald, and her novel, Save Me the Waltz. Meade's excellent biography of Dorothy Parker, What Fresh Hell is This?, was thorough, evoking both admiration and compassion for this brilliant, brittle woman. (I confess to little knowledge or interest in Edna Ferber.) I wonder whether this book would hold the interest of a reader who was not, already, an aficionado of these women. Meade's narrative is not biographical or thematic, but chronological. Each episode of each life is presented piecemeal as the decade progresses. The advantage of this approach is that the reader is shown how these lives intertwined, and their social context. The disadvantages to this episodic approach is that the reader never learns enough about any of the women to engage the imagination. The book ends in 1930, but not for any narrative or biographical reason. Brief end notes follow the lives of the main characters (both the writers and their friends, male and female). Honestly, familiar as I am with these women and their times, I was not sure who some of these people were. If you're looking for a shallow overview, this is the book for you. Otherwise, invest the time in full-scale biographies. These women are worth it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chandra

    Reading Challenge Week 5: Set in the 1920s I was very eager to start this as I'm just absolutely loving Charlotte Gordon's incredible dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley (Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley). Here is another book about extraordinary women: Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber. I'm sad to report it just doesn't even compare with Gordon's thorough and riveting work. R Reading Challenge Week 5: Set in the 1920s I was very eager to start this as I'm just absolutely loving Charlotte Gordon's incredible dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley (Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley). Here is another book about extraordinary women: Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber. I'm sad to report it just doesn't even compare with Gordon's thorough and riveting work. Rather, it feels more like a dull, random, somewhat gossipy recitation of events in the lives of these women. The connection between the four women feels tenuous to me. Yes, they're all famous Jazz Age female writers, but so what? She never really sold their stories as a larger tapestry with common meaning. As such the transitions between narratives was always a bit jarring.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A history of four intriguing women, following them from 1920 to 1930 - from a sparkling start to a somewhat less sparkling end (though not everything went awry in the end - just for some...). The author has chosen to present everything chronologically which means the women's stories come together and part and then meet again, just like they did in real life. They all moved in the same circles, knew the same people (which at times can be slightly confusing) and in many cases struggled with the sa A history of four intriguing women, following them from 1920 to 1930 - from a sparkling start to a somewhat less sparkling end (though not everything went awry in the end - just for some...). The author has chosen to present everything chronologically which means the women's stories come together and part and then meet again, just like they did in real life. They all moved in the same circles, knew the same people (which at times can be slightly confusing) and in many cases struggled with the same issues (mainly men, alcohol, and mental health or lack thereof). Some reviews I've read said that it must be easier to read this book if you knew the women beforehand - but that wasn't the case for me. I was familiar with Dorothy Parker and knew a fair bit about Zelda Fitzgerald, but that the other two were strangers to me was no problem for my enjoyment - instead it meant I didn't know what was going to happen in the next chapter and when reading a biography it can be quite refreshing. The most lasting impression was the tragedy of it all - the happy, joyful life of the roaring twenties didn't come to a surprise halt with the economic collapse of 1929, things had gone wrong long before that and it's not a book to read if you want something happy and light.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I first read this about 12 years ago and when I sampled a bit of the audio edition I decided to repeat the experience - by having someone read it to me. It's a lively account and a lot of fun, although the lives of Dorothy Parker, Zelda F., Edna St. Vincent Millay ("Vincent"), and Edna Ferber contained a lot of health crises, mental illness, and of course, alcoholism. Marion Meade loves these people and treats their stories with affection (she wrote a biography of Parker). I don't know why so ma I first read this about 12 years ago and when I sampled a bit of the audio edition I decided to repeat the experience - by having someone read it to me. It's a lively account and a lot of fun, although the lives of Dorothy Parker, Zelda F., Edna St. Vincent Millay ("Vincent"), and Edna Ferber contained a lot of health crises, mental illness, and of course, alcoholism. Marion Meade loves these people and treats their stories with affection (she wrote a biography of Parker). I don't know why so many Goodreaders disliked the book, because I thought the structure - chronicled by year, jumpcuts back and forth to each woman's story - really served the subjects and the nature of their lives. The audiobook reader is Lorna Raver and she's marvelous.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    As hard as it was to pull myself away from the television this weekend (six soccer matches! eight episodes of Gilmore Girls!), I did also read a book. A non-fiction book, even. This book, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, which is a mixed autobiography of four American women writers from the 1920s, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald. You'd think that with subject matter like that, you couldn't lose. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. This book is just not very good. As hard as it was to pull myself away from the television this weekend (six soccer matches! eight episodes of Gilmore Girls!), I did also read a book. A non-fiction book, even. This book, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, which is a mixed autobiography of four American women writers from the 1920s, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald. You'd think that with subject matter like that, you couldn't lose. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. This book is just not very good. It portrays all four women, to greater or lesser degrees, as pampered, marginally talented, mentally ill, alcoholics. Which, in some cases, is likely true, but it's not very interesting, particularly when all four of the female protagonists, who were, to my knowledge, quite different, are treated interchangeably. I started the book knowing very little about any of the women it portrayed, and I think I ended it knowing not much more. The accounts given in the book seemed very surface level, artificial, and doubtfully well-researched. And more lines and thought seemed to be given to the male characters who should have been out the outskirts (especially the fairly repulsive F. Scott Fitzgerald) than they were warranted. All in all, I found it disappointing. It did peak my interest in these women (particularly Edna Ferber, about whom I previously knew nothing) and this time period for American female writers, but it did nothing to hold it. Guess I'll have to look elsewhere.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    what stories about dorothy parker, zeda fitzgerald and edna st. vincent millay aren't interesting? not many. she writes about one more edna too but i forget who. that's why this book wasn't very good. it was really uneven - she'll be writing about dorothy parker and then skip over to some guy who was friends with dorothy and then the name of all his friends, and then to zelda fitzgerald with no smooth connection or segue at all. in retrospect, i think it would be more satisfying to read biograph what stories about dorothy parker, zeda fitzgerald and edna st. vincent millay aren't interesting? not many. she writes about one more edna too but i forget who. that's why this book wasn't very good. it was really uneven - she'll be writing about dorothy parker and then skip over to some guy who was friends with dorothy and then the name of all his friends, and then to zelda fitzgerald with no smooth connection or segue at all. in retrospect, i think it would be more satisfying to read biographies of all the women specifically.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Fun but not super well-written account of my favorite literary period.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    POPSUGAR 2020: A book set in the 1920s I loved the format of this history/ biography. Meade traces the lives of Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber throughout the 1920s. Each chapter is a different year of the decade, and we discover what each woman did within the span of that year. These women were incredible. They worked, partied, dated, got married, had children, had abortions, traveled, associated with each other. We follow their successes and triumphs d POPSUGAR 2020: A book set in the 1920s I loved the format of this history/ biography. Meade traces the lives of Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber throughout the 1920s. Each chapter is a different year of the decade, and we discover what each woman did within the span of that year. These women were incredible. They worked, partied, dated, got married, had children, had abortions, traveled, associated with each other. We follow their successes and triumphs during one of the most fascinating decades in history: the 1920s. Meade's writing is charming and informative. She seems to tell us these stories of Dottie, Edna, Zelda, and Vincent as if she were talking about girlfriends. We can hear their voices, feel their frustrations and joys. This was a delightful read. I'd actually love to see it as a limited series somewhere....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan C

    So, this book follows Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and Edna Ferber through the twenties. They were free spirits and fit the "Roaring Twenties". Besides being heavy drinking years they were also fairly prolific years for the ladies involved. This is my second Marion Meade book. I previously read her Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase: A Biography. Both books left me a little dissatisfied. Not sure if I was looking for something else or what. Maybe it is her writing So, this book follows Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and Edna Ferber through the twenties. They were free spirits and fit the "Roaring Twenties". Besides being heavy drinking years they were also fairly prolific years for the ladies involved. This is my second Marion Meade book. I previously read her Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase: A Biography. Both books left me a little dissatisfied. Not sure if I was looking for something else or what. Maybe it is her writing style. Here, admittedly she was talking about four different lives and trying to blend them into one book, she just seems to jump around a lot. And I seem to remember that the Keaton book was similar in that. Saying that, I would still like to read her books on Dorothy Parker and Nathaniel West, Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? and Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney - I have the latter one on my Kindle. I was a little disturbed (?) to read the Afterword where she tells us what happened to everyone - far too many of them involved alcohol-related deaths. Not just the ladies, but everyone they knew. Too many suicides, etc. Of course, some of this may be attributable to the quality of the alcohol they imbibed. The Prohibition was famous for the invention of cocktails that would disguise the taste of the alcohol. Some of those drinks are still around today although I am not sure how many people these days drink some of those concoctions. All in all, it was an okay book. If you're like me and have an interest in the period, you might be interested in the book. If the '20s and lady writers leave you cold, you might as well pass on by.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Makkai

    I probably shouldn't give stars when I'm only halfway through a book, but I can't imagine I'll change my mind by the end of this one. I picked up the audio book for the car (really just as background research for my second novel), and I'm so hooked I'm making excuses to run errands just to listen to it. I do love the voice of the reader -- she sounds like an older, sophisticated woman, leaning close to fill you in on gossip she just learned -- and I'm reminded again of how much a reader can make I probably shouldn't give stars when I'm only halfway through a book, but I can't imagine I'll change my mind by the end of this one. I picked up the audio book for the car (really just as background research for my second novel), and I'm so hooked I'm making excuses to run errands just to listen to it. I do love the voice of the reader -- she sounds like an older, sophisticated woman, leaning close to fill you in on gossip she just learned -- and I'm reminded again of how much a reader can make or break an audio book (something sadly outside of most writers' control). I don't imagine anyone will mistake this book for either serious literary criticism or intense, analytical biography. It excels at being exactly what it intends: a deliciously gossipy and truly funny overview of the Algonquin Round Table and some of the more sociable writers of the 1920s. I'll be ordering this author's other books, and I already queued up "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" on Netflix. And if anyone in the Chicago area desperately needs help with an errand that requires an hour or more of driving, I volunteer. Updated: Finished the book. Yep, loved every minute of it, and she did a great job of wrapping up the story with the decade, even though the lives in question were, in some cases, just getting started. (It had a bit of an Animal House ending in that regard, but the sudden infusion of lively background music on the CD made it all quite festive.) Recommend most highly.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    Told through the tangled lives of four free-spirited but very different women in the same forward thinking, hard drinking New York literary circle, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a brisk social history of 1920’s. There’s the surprisingly fragile Dorothy Parker, a scathingly clever but not especially insightful wit, and the sparkling but ultimately tragic Zelda Fitzgerald, whose talent for art and life is overshadowed by her more famous husband and her own eventual madness. Rounding out the group Told through the tangled lives of four free-spirited but very different women in the same forward thinking, hard drinking New York literary circle, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a brisk social history of 1920’s. There’s the surprisingly fragile Dorothy Parker, a scathingly clever but not especially insightful wit, and the sparkling but ultimately tragic Zelda Fitzgerald, whose talent for art and life is overshadowed by her more famous husband and her own eventual madness. Rounding out the group is Edna St. Vincent Millay, a self involved but obsessive and talented poet in spite of relentless health problems, and Edna Ferber, an independent loner by comparison with the other three and the author of highly successful novels and plays including Showboat, Giant, Cimarron and Ice Palace. Each year from 1920 to 1930 has its own chapter and the story weaves back and forth among the sometimes overlapping lives of the four women. Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is lively and well told, and since it’s about four published authors it’s added a long list of books to my “want to read as soon as possible” list.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I went back and forth on my feelings about this book, frankly. The information about the four women authors (Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna Ferber, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker), was interesting indeed, but the choppy pace of the book made it difficult to keep things straight. The book is organized by year through the decade of the 1920s and finishes with the year 1930, and follows the lives of these four authors through the times. I learned a lot I didn't know about the writers' private I went back and forth on my feelings about this book, frankly. The information about the four women authors (Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna Ferber, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker), was interesting indeed, but the choppy pace of the book made it difficult to keep things straight. The book is organized by year through the decade of the 1920s and finishes with the year 1930, and follows the lives of these four authors through the times. I learned a lot I didn't know about the writers' private lives, and Meade presented a great deal of information gained from excellent research. However, I'd suggest that the reader know something about these women before reading the book, as the author assumes a great deal of understanding by the reader.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ginger

    This book was a little like a train wreck. As much as I felt I should politely turn away, I couldn't stop myself from reading it. Honestly, I didn't like the writing; I thought it was too self-conscious and overdone. And I wasn't crazy about the books chronological organization by year, it seemed a little disjointed and the portraits of the four women were a little monochromatic. Despite all that, there is definitely some good gossip and its a bit like reading a scandal magazine or a tabloid tel This book was a little like a train wreck. As much as I felt I should politely turn away, I couldn't stop myself from reading it. Honestly, I didn't like the writing; I thought it was too self-conscious and overdone. And I wasn't crazy about the books chronological organization by year, it seemed a little disjointed and the portraits of the four women were a little monochromatic. Despite all that, there is definitely some good gossip and its a bit like reading a scandal magazine or a tabloid tell all, backed up by heavy research and footnotes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I'll keep reading it until I just simply cannot bear another word, but this is a lazily written and researched book that relies on legend, gossip and old research. These women don't deserve it. This could have been a lot more but is a total piece of hackwork. This author is known as an expert on this period, so she can get away with it. I am sure she got a nice paycheck, but all the ended up doing was a disservice to the women who have provided her with a lifestyle as an academic writer. Boo his I'll keep reading it until I just simply cannot bear another word, but this is a lazily written and researched book that relies on legend, gossip and old research. These women don't deserve it. This could have been a lot more but is a total piece of hackwork. This author is known as an expert on this period, so she can get away with it. I am sure she got a nice paycheck, but all the ended up doing was a disservice to the women who have provided her with a lifestyle as an academic writer. Boo hiss.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Although this focuses on some of my favorite writers of that era, I wasn't a fan of the author's style. It gives a chronological coverage of what they were up to in the 20s, but in the course of almost 300 pages, you never really get a solid grasp of their personalities or any depth of who they are. (I was also annoyed by the overuse of nicknames.) Although this focuses on some of my favorite writers of that era, I wasn't a fan of the author's style. It gives a chronological coverage of what they were up to in the 20s, but in the course of almost 300 pages, you never really get a solid grasp of their personalities or any depth of who they are. (I was also annoyed by the overuse of nicknames.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Inez Parra

    So very dry! Sucks all the fun out of the Jazz Age. The writers I imagined having spunk and sass in their step were actually just a bunch of self obsessed, pretentious old hags concerned with status and gossip. Oh well, I'll always have Clara Bow. So very dry! Sucks all the fun out of the Jazz Age. The writers I imagined having spunk and sass in their step were actually just a bunch of self obsessed, pretentious old hags concerned with status and gossip. Oh well, I'll always have Clara Bow.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Martin Turnbull

    I LOVED this book about the lives of 4 female American writers throughout the 1920s (mainly in New York) - Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna Ferber, and Edna St. Vincent Mallay. I gobbled it up and regretted when it came to an end. I wanted it to keep on going.

  18. 4 out of 5

    mr. kate

    I actually never finished this book because I couldn't deal with the way dorothy parker was referred to as "dottie"... I actually never finished this book because I couldn't deal with the way dorothy parker was referred to as "dottie"...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A disappointingly dry and dull account of the lives of the Fitzgeralds, Dorothy Parker, et. al. Perhaps this author should have let her writing run a little wild. . . .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I wanted to like this book, but found it disjointed and hard to follow. There was a certain charm and interest to the details, but even though I was nearly done I just couldn't finish it. I wanted to like this book, but found it disjointed and hard to follow. There was a certain charm and interest to the details, but even though I was nearly done I just couldn't finish it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Necessary

    I enjoyed this book, but it's like I always say, there is a fine line between genius and madness. All these authors led somewhat tragic lives. I enjoyed this book, but it's like I always say, there is a fine line between genius and madness. All these authors led somewhat tragic lives.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    Couldn’t go through with it. Dropped it very early. Just shallow.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Maley

    I’m obsessed with The Lost Generation. I totally enjoyed this audiobook, the narrator gave a great performance. I always enjoy reading about the different perspectives of The Lost Generation women.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annie Noblin

    Loved this one! I liked getting inside the heads of these women. I thought it was well done and just an overall fun read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J

    I totally loved this book. I was captivated by the often "naughty" and catty lives of some of my favorite authors. Truly a fun and gossipy-like read! I totally loved this book. I was captivated by the often "naughty" and catty lives of some of my favorite authors. Truly a fun and gossipy-like read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Destiny

    I became fascinated with the twenties when I happen to stumble on two different young adult series set in the 1920s. I loved those books and like with a lot of my interests, I immediately sought out books and other things that took place in the 1920s. This book was one of the books I bought last year along with Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern. I read Flapper at the end of last year and was slightly disappointed in it. I was in for a surprise I became fascinated with the twenties when I happen to stumble on two different young adult series set in the 1920s. I loved those books and like with a lot of my interests, I immediately sought out books and other things that took place in the 1920s. This book was one of the books I bought last year along with Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern. I read Flapper at the end of last year and was slightly disappointed in it. I was in for a surprise when I started to read this book. The narration read like a novel. I found that a bit weird at first, but I got used to it. It made me feel like I was really there, instead of just a collection of facts. It felt more personal. I had already been fascinated by Dorothy Parker so I was very excited to read about her. But the other women (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald to name a few) was just as exciting. I'm now looking for individual biographies on each woman. I want to know more about them, I want to read their works. As a writer myself, I'm always fascinated to learn about women writers. So I give this book 5 stars. It was an interesting look at the lives of different writers throughout the Roaring Twenties. I will also be reading Ms. Meade's bio on Dorothy Parker and Victoria Woodhall.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    I've always been interested in the writers of this era and it was particularly fascinating to read a book that focuses on the female authors rather than the male. Having said that, as a fan of F Scott Fitzgerald, the tidbits on him were eye-opening! He sounded like a nightmare! In all, one is left with the impression that to be a really great writer one has to have something of a narcissistic personality disorder and/or at least the hint of a mental illness of some kind. Or perhaps that was just I've always been interested in the writers of this era and it was particularly fascinating to read a book that focuses on the female authors rather than the male. Having said that, as a fan of F Scott Fitzgerald, the tidbits on him were eye-opening! He sounded like a nightmare! In all, one is left with the impression that to be a really great writer one has to have something of a narcissistic personality disorder and/or at least the hint of a mental illness of some kind. Or perhaps that was just the 20s. I wasn't so familiar with Edna St Vincent Millay, but reading about her fascinating character has encouraged me to get hold of some of her work. Although it's clear that the Lost Generation's hedonistic, globe-trotting, alcohol-fueled lifestyle was not really that glamorous what with suicide attempts, poor health, marriage breakdowns, endless Gatsby-esque soulless parties where the literary set would attempt to cocoon themselves in a pretty bubble from the outside world, I think there is still something seemingly magical about that time, despite the hopelessness - or perhaps because of it - that will always render these writers endlessly captivating. If you are already familiar with the lives of Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker et al, this book will not tell you anything you don't already know, but it's definitely a great snapshot for the uninitiated.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Constantine

    I really enjoyed the parts of this book that focused on Zelda Fitzgerald (about whom I've already read two biographies anyway), Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker. However, I found the parts on Edna Ferber lacking in depth. Why was she included? Was it to provide some sort of counterweight to all of the insanity and misery and fucked-up-ness that seemed to trail after the other three women? Was it to show a successful writer from that time period who didn't self-destruct in a fireball of I really enjoyed the parts of this book that focused on Zelda Fitzgerald (about whom I've already read two biographies anyway), Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker. However, I found the parts on Edna Ferber lacking in depth. Why was she included? Was it to provide some sort of counterweight to all of the insanity and misery and fucked-up-ness that seemed to trail after the other three women? Was it to show a successful writer from that time period who didn't self-destruct in a fireball of booze and men? Either way, her parts could have been fleshed out more than they were. Beyond that, I loved the conceit of the book. It was well-researched, complete with footnotes and citations - the kind of thing that makes a nerd like myself very happy. Yet it was written with the kind of flair and style normally reserved for novels. Muy enjoyable. The other thing I liked was the description of what it was like to be alive during the 1920s. It was this totally decadent, lawless time, and while it seems few people made it out fully intact, it also seems like they had a hell of a time while they were in the thick of it. Hard not to be envious of that in today's overly safe, corporatized, sanitized world.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MsAprilVincent

    The author arranged the information by year, rather than by topic, and I think that detracts from the book's effectiveness. It's a weird style choice that an editor should have talked her out of. That being said, I liked learning more about these women. I suppose this book serves as a sort of intro to the writers, kind of like an appetizer that makes me want a main course? Whatever, I'm bad at figurative language. What I mean to say is this: now I want to read proper biographies and/or the works The author arranged the information by year, rather than by topic, and I think that detracts from the book's effectiveness. It's a weird style choice that an editor should have talked her out of. That being said, I liked learning more about these women. I suppose this book serves as a sort of intro to the writers, kind of like an appetizer that makes me want a main course? Whatever, I'm bad at figurative language. What I mean to say is this: now I want to read proper biographies and/or the works of the women discussed here. The author assumes the reader already has a basic knowledge of Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, which is a bit of a leap, if you ask me. She references their work with generic descriptions, and I guess I'm supposed to know what she's talking about; I don't. I didn't know Ferber wrote Showboat, and her novel sounds way better than the musical, so I want to check that out. Also, Millay co-wrote an opera, The King's Henchman; I need to find that! In other news, F. Scott Fitzgerald was an a--hole, the end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    This book covers a ten-year period(1920-1930). The author discusses four women writers (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald--yes, she wrote too). When I first learned of the book, I assumed it would be divided into four parts, one for each of the women. However, the book is divided into ten chapters, each covering one year of the roaring twenties. Along the way, we are introduced to the many friends, lovers, and other assorted crazies that these women hung This book covers a ten-year period(1920-1930). The author discusses four women writers (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, and Zelda Fitzgerald--yes, she wrote too). When I first learned of the book, I assumed it would be divided into four parts, one for each of the women. However, the book is divided into ten chapters, each covering one year of the roaring twenties. Along the way, we are introduced to the many friends, lovers, and other assorted crazies that these women hung out with. All of four of the women were in their twenties in that decade. It's a wonder any of them made it to age 30, what with their nightly boozing and morning hangovers, and other insane antics. The author did a huge amount of research, and I would have given this book five stars except for two reasons. First, I didn't like the layout of the book. Every few paragraphs the author skips from one person to another. The author defends this method as being part of the hectic, pulsating period that she writes about. Second, Edna Ferber really got short-changed. There is much less information on her than on the other three.

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