Pamela Hamilton is an award-winning author and consultant who has worked with notable figures in business, US intelligence, music, and the arts, and has covered some of the most significant events of the twenty-first century. For more than a decade she was a producer for NBC News, and she was a producer on the award-winning documentary Grateful Dawg. Based in Manhattan, she serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists' Deadline Club and on the advisory board of the Art Deco Society of New York. In 2021, Hamilton won the National Indie Excellence Award for Chick-Lit and was a finalist in the Faction category for her debut novel, Lady Be Good.
“A smart and touchingly sympathetic fictional portrayal of an enigmatic woman.”
– Kirkus Reviews
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.
Pub Date: March 31, 2021
Page count: 298pp
Publisher: Koehler Books
Review Posted Online: May 24, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021
LADY BE GOOD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DOROTHY HALE: Kirkus Star
LADY BE GOOD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DOROTHY HALE: Winner, National Indie Excellence Award for Chick-Lit, 2021
LADY BE GOOD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DOROTHY HALE: Finalist, National Indie Excellence Award for Faction, 2021Literary Hub: Pamela Hamilton on Excavating the Life of Dorothy Hale, 2021 Literary Hub: Bad Girl Debutantes, Rebellious Nuns, and a Pregnant Moose: 5 Books You May Have Missed in March, 2021 Bookreporter: Spring Preview, 2021 The Price of Friendship, 2021 New Books Network, 2021 Press Kit -- Lady Be Good, 2021
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