James wrote an intriguing post last week about Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, his pick for our Library of Forgotten Books. The Bookshop is about a widow who uses her small inheritance to open the only bookstore in a small seaside town.
I had to laugh, because my recommendation for the Library of Forgotten Books is Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything, a novel that focuses on the publishing industry and follows several young women struggling to make their careers in New York. Our recommendations say a lot about us, don’t you think?
First published in 1958, The Best of Everything had a youthful exuberance for Manhattan and the can-any-woman-have-it-all question that never fails to arouse interest. Click here to read a behind-the-scenes article from the New Yorker by the original editor. Although we might think we know this story from Sex in the City, keep in mind that The Best of Everything long pre-dates it and came out in the 50s, when women in the workplace faced a whole different level of sexism and loneliness. Some themes are timeless, and the cast of characters, including Caroline, the smart and ambitious aspiring editor; April, the naive small-town girl who relies on her sexuality; Gregg, the one who self-destructs over a doomed love affair; and Barbara, the single mother trying to support her family, all ring true for the time period. They look to each other for friendship, advice, and encouragement....Read More