Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation

Judith Mackrell, Author
Judith Mackrell. FSG/Sarah Crichton, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-0-3741-5608-4
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 01/14/2014
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In a cool, glittery style that mirrors the roaring decade she delves into, British dance critic Mackrell (Bloomsbury Ballerina) breathes new life into the stories of a few of the most culturally important women of the 1920s. Coming from disparate circumstances, these women nonetheless all seized the astonishing opportunities that grew, ironically, out of the slaughter of the Great War. Lady Diana Cooper (née Manners), a notorious party girl before the war, signed on, against her parents’ wishes, as a nurse with the Volunteer Aid Detachment shortly after the war broke out. She also married Duff Cooper, to her parents’ dismay, but the marriage allowed her the freedom to pursue an acting career. Steamship heiress Nancy Cunard leapt into a disastrous wartime marriage before cultivating both a literary career and a string of notable lovers. On the continent, Tamara de Lempicka fled the Russian Revolution with her husband and daughter, but their economic reversal propelled her into a profitable painting career. Across the Atlantic blossomed the three women who defined Jazz Age America: childhood friends Tallulah Bankhead and Zelda Fitzgerald, and dancer Josephine Baker. Through these marvelous portrayals, Mackrell reminds us why these women continue to fascinate and why their lives had such impact. Illus. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Jan.)
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