Whistled Like A Bird

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In this extraordinary, true story about an independent woman, a world-famous aviator, and the powerful man who loved them both, Sally Putnam Chapman, the granddaughter of Dorothy Binney Putnam and George Putnam, recounts a treasure trove of memories, spanning the years 1907 to 1961, culled from her grandmother's diaries. of photos.

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Whistled Like a Bird: The Untold Story of Dorothy Putnam, George Putnam, and Amelia Earhart

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In this extraordinary, true story about an independent woman, a world-famous aviator, and the powerful man who loved them both, Sally Putnam Chapman, the granddaughter of Dorothy Binney Putnam and George Putnam, recounts a treasure trove of memories, spanning the years 1907 to 1961, culled from her grandmother's diaries. of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Few of us have a grandmother like Dorothy ("Dofry") Putnam (1888-1982). Born into the Binney family, whose fortune was based in those ubiquitous Smith and Binney Crayola crayons, she married George Putnam, a scion of the publishing house. She also became friendly with famed aviator Amelia Earhart. The fairy tale took on a grimmer tone when Dofry fell in love with her sons' young tutor, the Binney-Putnam marriage broke up and her former husband married Amelia. Dofry married twice more, first an alcoholic who abused her, then a coffee planter, who quickly left her a widow. During all these years, 1907-1961, she faithfully kept her diaries, which she bequeathed to her granddaughter, Sally Putnam Chapman. The result is this book written with freelancer Mansfielda cross between the social portrait of the rich and famous in the early part of this century and an encounter with the joys and sorrows of a woman who appeared to have everything. Previously unpublished notes and cables between Amelia Earhart and George Putnam are included, as well as extensive quotations from Dofry's diaries. Neither grandmother nor granddaughter is a prose stylist, and Chapman's habit grates of presuming to know her grandmother's thoughts at all the crises in her life. But as the raw material of a memorable slice of history and a glimpse of Earhart as wife and stepmother, this is both titillating and absorbing. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
The biography of a bright, talented, adventurous, athletic, financially solvent woman who married a bright, talented, adventurous, etc., man, but whose life never seemed to live up to those promises.

What's untold about this story is that Dorothy Binney Putnam was having an affair with a man 20 years younger some time before her publisher husband, George, met, published, and married Amelia Earhart. That takes Dorothy off the hook as an abandoned woman, but fails to answer the question: Does it matter to anyone except her relatives? Chapman is the granddaughter of Dorothy Putnam and the heir to Dorothy's diaries. Excerpts from the diaries set the stage for chapters in her life, from the early 1900s, when Dorothy was a teenager, to 1982, when she died, after surviving four husbands. (Her young lover, George Weymouth, was not one of the husbands.) Dorothy Putnam's home base both as daughter (to the inventor of Crayola crayons) and wife to Putnam was Sound Beach, Conn., where she built a memorable home, served as remarkable hostess, entertaining her husband's authors, and nurtured her children. She sailed with explorer William Beebe but was never able to exploit her adventurous spirit or her other talents—singer and pianist, plus she could whistle like a bird—to achieve on her own. When she finally left Putnam to Earhart, she remarried within a month after her divorce was final and settled in Florida. This husband beat her, the next fled west to Hawaii, and the last—and "best"—died after only four years of marriage. The diary entries that are the basis for this book are brief, almost brusque, and do not display what was apparently Dorothy's considerable charm.

What's here finally is no more than a granddaughter's tribute to a woman who was the ex-wife of the man who married Amelia Earhart.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446520553
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/1/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2008

    Touch of History from the History Maker

    Sally Putnum Chapman takes the diaries of her grandmother and presents the unknown story of love, romances, drama, and how life give back even when it take away. Truly a great read. You not only learn about history, you learn about how other make life in times of trouble and create gifts for future generations. A must read. Joy.

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