"A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman."
-Kirkus starred review
"An absolute candy dish of luxury, opulence, and grandeur. Every word as delicious as the next. A lens into the upper echelon of the roaring 20s. Delectable, divine, and delightful."
-Ashley Longshore, iconic pop artist, entrepreneur, and author of I Do Not Cook, I Do Not Clean, I Do Not Fly Commercial
"This finely crafted gem of a novel holds within it an entire world: Jazz Age New York, with all its vibrancy and thrill. Rich with smart dialogue and period detail, it's a window into a vanished time, bringing historical legends back to life-but more than that, it's a mirror that helps us see our own society more clearly."
-Kermit Roosevelt, award-winning author of Allegiance
"In this deeply evocative story, Hamilton beautifully captures the themes of love and betrayal, class and culture, and the price of fame. With stylish prose and clever dialogue, she reveals the fascinating story of Dorothy Hale. Meticulously researched and well told, Lady Be Good is a magnificent debut novel, taking readers on an enthralling and heartbreaking journey."
-Bill Dedman, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times #1 bestselling author of Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
"Lady Be Good is a coming-of-age story. It's a love story. It's a story of friendship, grace, and betrayal. Pop open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and fall into Dorothy Hale's rarified world of glitz, glamour, and grand times during the Jazz Age. Poignant, heartbreaking, and a whole lot of fun, it's filled with snappy dialogue and vivid descriptions of the glitterati of 1930s New York. Written in lyrical prose, this absorbing tale tells the true story of a misunderstood woman who captured the hearts of all of those who knew her. Irresistible. You'll never see the Frida Kahlo portrait in the same way again."
-Andrea Cagan, New York Times and Los Angeles Times #1 bestselling author
"Did you ever wonder what was going through the mind of an outstandingly beautiful, improbably elegant and gifted woman? Satisfaction? Contempt for ordinary people? Desperate fear of losing one's high status? Dorothy Hale was surely that person, and in Lady Be Good, Pamela Hamilton takes us, as only superb fiction can, deep into that mind. Based on meticulous research and with prose as stylish as Hale herself, Hamilton uncovers the mystery of the dazzling socialite, whose friends included Frida Kahlo and Clare Booth Luce. Lady is a fascinating investigation of fame, class, gender, appearance, and the American dream. It's a truly compelling story."
-Dennis McNally, New York Times bestselling author of A Long Strange Trip
"An inherently fascinating and exceptionally well written, organized and presented work of historical fiction based on the life and times of Dorothy Hale (January 11, 1905 - October 21, 1938), Lady Be Good is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college and university library General Fiction collections. "
-Midwest Book Review
"Lady Be Good is an extraordinary work about a remarkable woman in a unique period . . . Pamela Hamilton writes with such gravitas and dedication, delivering a framework of facts and research assembled with an imaginative pen."
-Readers' Favorite (five-star review)
Immersed in the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood and New York City in the roaring 1920s and into the ’30s, Hamilton’s debut novel sheds light on the life and death of the socialite Dorothy Hale. Chronicling Hale's life from her early school days to the aspiring actress’s rise to fame and, finally, to her untimely death, Hamilton pieces together Hale's existence in a sweeping historical fiction that pulses with romance, drama, high society life, and tragedy. Touching Hale's encounters and friendships with luminaries such as Cole Porter, Fred Astaire, Fanny Brice, and George and Ira Gershwin, whose hit song provides Hamilton’s title, Lady Be Good combines character study, historical recreation, and the welcome fizz of a Hollywood tell-all.
Hamilton instantly captivates readers by dramatizing Hale’s death by suicide in “a black velvet dress from Bergdorf Goodman” in the opening chapter. Writing with beautiful detail, she delivers riveting insight into the events that culminated in that ending, especially Hale’s highly active life in old Hollywood and Manhattan. The elegant timeframe and high fashion of the era, replete with Broadway stars, jazz music, and roaring parties that would be the envy of Gatsby’s crowd. Hale was in the thick of high society life, and through big breaks and let downs, grand romances and heartaches, Hamilton paints a striking portrait of this extraordinary life much like Frida Kahlo did, too, when she immortalized the troubled socialite in one of her most famous paintings.
"The more success you have, the more people want to take you down," is Fred Astaire’s sage advice to Hale, a truth that captures the spirit of her fight to hold fast to her rising star. With precision and careful research, Hamilton reveals the story of a woman determined to make a name for herself in a world ruled by men and governed by money, power, and connections. Readers who love glamorous historical fiction will be mesmerized by the life of Dorothy Hale.
Takeaway: An entertaining and appealing account of Dorothy Hale’s life, full of pomp and old Hollywood glamour.
Great for fans of: Adriana Trigiani’s All the Stars in Heaven, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A Marketing copy: A
A historical novel about the once-famous American socialite Dorothy Hale.
Former NBC News producer Hamilton has chosen a subject of her debut novel who’s likely best remembered today as the focus of a famous 1939 painting by Frida Kahlo. In the 1920s and ’30s, the intelligent, attractive, and sophisticated Hale ran in glamorous circles that included future member of Congress and ambassador Clare Boothe Brokaw (later Luce). Hale tried to break into a career in show business, and history has largely judged her as a thwarted figure—someone whose lack of success in entertainment or in love (she was divorced once and had several ill-starred affairs) eventually drove her to leap from her Central Park South apartment window to her death—the very act that Kahlo immortalized in her aforementioned work, The Suicide of Dorothy Hale. In this novel, Hamilton sets out to tell a much fuller story, taking readers on a lightly fictionalized tour of Hale’s upbringing and spending a satisfying amount of time on her complex, loving second marriage to artist Gardner Hale. The narrative also lavishes attention on Dorothy’s increasingly deep friendship with Clare, who manages to do in this novel what she always managed to do in real life—get all the best lines: “Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount,” she writes to Dorothy at one point. At another moment that showcases Hamilton’s ear for conversation and talent for pacing, Gardner tells Dorothy, “You know of course that I am happier than I’ve ever been and will remain so if it’s just the two of us forevermore,” which prompts Dorothy to remember one of Luce’s remarks: “Forevermore is shorter than you think.” Overall, the author’s narrative is smooth and invitingly readable, wearing its clearly considerable research lightly; her version of Dorothy’s doomed relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s adviser and Works Progress Administration administrator Harry Hopkins is surprisingly gripping. The narrative never stoops to easy renditions, and as a result, Dorothy emerges as both a charismatic and vulnerable figure.
A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman.