Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale

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In 1938, Dorothy Hale fell to her death in New York. Was it suicide? What led up to the tragic event? In Lady Be Good, Pamela Hamilton brings this forgotten story of a beautiful socialite back to life in her fictional account, which looks at Dorothy’s extraordinary life as she attempted to navigate society during the jazz age. This marvelous tale captures so many elements that make for an enticing read: love, loss, romance, glamour, friendship, betrayal, mystery, and suspense. All these aspects transcend time, making her story seem both historical and modern at the same time.

This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down, essentially due to the author’s remarkable talent for creating engaging and delicious scenes and dialogue. I felt at times like I had been swept up into another age as the characters traveled around the world from one social event to another. One of the things that makes this book a great success is the author’s ability to bring across so many different emotional responses to the reader. I was struck by how young the women were when they married and the roles that society expected them to play, all while they had their own ideas of how to break free and channel their drive and energy to uncharted places.

I especially liked the depiction of Dorothy’s first husband, Gaillard Thomas. He was so romantic in the beginning, but after their marriage, he turned cold and elusive. Like Dorothy, the reader is left wondering what she’d done and why he changed. All of which made the next chapter of life with her second husband, Gardner Hale, all the more special. But the betrayal by her friend Claire Booth Luce was probably the saddest moment for me. They had been friends forever, and for reasons of social power and selfishness, it seems Dorothy was thrown to the wolves before and after her death. I wasn’t sure what to think of Harry Hopkins. While he professed to love her, he didn’t bother to stick his neck out for her, especially after her death. Perhaps his political career was more important than Dorothy suspected. However, I did like the fact that Dorothy seemed to be a daring woman. She wasn’t afraid to try something new or move in social circles she didn’t always understand.

Overall, this was an enthralling, beautifully written story full of interesting period details that took me back to a place that must have been magical for the privileged. After reading this, I felt like you do when you’ve seen a good film. All you want to do is watch it over again.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 298 pages
Publisher Koehler Books
Publish Date 31-Mar-2021
ISBN 9781646632725 Buy this Book
Category Historical Fiction