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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Pamela Hamilton’s biographical style work of fiction, Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale, tells the story of an extraordinary life. In the 1920s and 30s, socialite Dorothy Hale graced high society and elite circles, rubbing shoulders with prominent figures and becoming one of Frida Kahlo’s popular art subjects. Set against glamorous backdrops that include New York’s high society, the Algonquin 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 that led her to end it all by leaping from the sixteenth floor of her Central Park South apartment. It is a story that begins with a dramatic ending, intensifying the narrative as it traces Hale’s journey toward career and romance.
Dorothy Hale may not be a popular figure nowadays, but it is fitting to read about her life and times as a lesson in history. Her experiences defined an era. Fictional narratives of famous figures are often difficult to write because the connection between their existence and creative license can be challenging to reconcile. But Pamela Hamilton writes with such gravitas and dedication, delivering a framework of facts and research assembled with an imaginative pen. Lady Be Good is filled with incidents and anecdotes, and one of the highlights is Hale’s friendship with Clare Boothe Luce. One exciting facet in this tale is that while Hale was able to survive the Great Depression of the 30s, she didn’t survive the depression that plagued her mind. Lady Be Good is an extraordinary work about a remarkable woman in a unique period.