Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Glamorous Coming of Age in the 1930s

Jane Hall began life in an Arizona mining town. She loved the freedom and adored her father who wrote humerus fiction for the Saturday Evening Post. However, her father's death and the subsequent death of her mother, sent Jane and her brother East to live with her mother's sister. The mining town life couldn't have presented more of a contrast to the Manhattan lifestyle of wealthy families and debutante parties.

Although Jane became a debutante and enjoyed the glamour, she craved independence and wanted to be successful on her own. She achieved this through writing stories about the debutante life for Cosmopolitan. Her success led to an offer to write for Metroo-Goldwym-Mayer where she met famous writer and formed a friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The war changed the public taste for light fiction, and Jane succumbed to family pressure to marry the right man from a social perspective. From then on, her writing suffered much to her dismay.

Robin Cutler has done a good job bringing her mother's era to life. The major focus of the story is on how girls, particularly from the upper and middle classes, were pressured to become wives rather than independent career women. The struggle to please her family, but also be independently successful permeates Jane's story.

Although the early chapters about Jane's life in Arizona and as a debutante move quickly, the book loses momentum when the author describes in detail each of Jane's literary works. The problem is that they are very similar and the retelling becomes tedious.  

I enjoyed this trip back to the era of our parents and in some cases grandparents. The book emphasizes how much has changed in the opportunities available to women, but we're still our mother's daughters and often for the older generation, the mores of the 30's drive their desires for us.


I received this book from Net Galley for this review.