"Hamilton has an ear for conversation and talent for pacing... Dorothy emerges as both a charismatic and vulnerable figure. A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Readers who love glamorous historical fiction will be mesmerized by the life of Dorothy Hale... a woman determined to make a name for herself in a world ruled by men and governed by money, power, and connections. Hamilton paints a striking portrait of this extraordinary life much like Frida Kahlo did... The elegant timeframe and high fashion of the era, replete with jazz music and roaring parties that would be the envy of Gatsby's crowd."
-BookLife by Publishers Weekly, Editor's Pick
"This book is delicately woven into a masterpiece of fact and fiction. Hamilton writes with eloquence and precision... Her words flow with grace and ease, inviting readers into the depths of her narrative. A fascinating tale of how Dorothy Hale claims the love and affection of her fans, rising to become one of the most acclaimed and admired women of the early 1900s. This is a notable contribution to Hale's legacy as well as to literature."
-Manhattan Book Review (five-star review)
"The landscape of the book in setting and culture reminds the reader of The Great Gatsby. The author is skilled and provides vivid descriptions... I found the novel fascinating."
-Independent Book Publishers Association
"Engaging and delicious scenes and dialogue... 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. An enthralling, beautifully written story full of interesting period details."
-San Francisco Book Review (five-star review)
"Lady Be Good provides an intoxicating mix of glitz, glamour, love, and betrayal, complete with a heartbreaking ending that lingers long after the final page. Hamilton's refined prose delivers tight, concise bursts of dialogue and vivid scene-setting. A timeless coming-of-age tale of innocence lost, one that feels eerily prescient when measured against the modern trappings of social media-driven fame."
"An extraordinary work about a remarkable woman... Set, the art world, Hollywood, and a maelstrom of politics, the novel is a vivid portrait of one woman's dreams, as well as heartbreaks. 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)
"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
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.