The Manhattan Girls: A Novel of Dorothy Parker and Her Friends by Gill Paul #BookReview #HistoricalFiction

NEW YORK CITY 1921: The war is over, fashions are daring, and bootleg liquor is abundant. Here four extraordinary women form a bridge group that grows into a firm friendship.

Dorothy Parker: renowned wit, member of the Algonquin Round Table, and more fragile than she seems. Jane Grant: first female reporter for the New York Times, and determined to launch a new magazine she calls The New Yorker. Winifred Lenihan: beautiful and talented Broadway actress, a casting-couch target. And Peggy Leech: magazine assistant by day, brilliant novelist by night.

Their romances flourish and falter while their goals sometimes seem impossible to reach and their friendship deepens against the backdrop of turbulent New York City, where new speakeasies open and close, jazz music flows through the air, and bathtub gin fills their glasses.

They gossip, they comfort each other, and they offer support through the setbacks. But their biggest challenge is keeping their dear friend Dottie safe from herself.

The Manhattan Girls (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible) (AbeBooks USed Book Marketplace)

I’ve read two other Gill Paul books, Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy & Maria Callas by Gill Paul and The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb by Gill Paul #NetGalley #ARCReview #KingTut. I enjoyed them both, as they surrounded subjects for which I’m familiar. Yet when I picked up The Manhattan Girls, I knew nothing of Dorothy Parker other than that she was a writer and was a member of the Algonquin Round Table.

The book is full of sharp and witty women and men and their banter. My main problem throughout the book was that without having prior knowledge of Parker and her friends, I had no idea what was real and what was imagined. In one sense, that’s freeing for the reader, but in another sense, it’s really hard to see the fact in the fiction. I wished there were an afterward revealing what was true or not, where liberties were taken, and what happened to the people described in the novel.

While I found the writing top-notch as usual for a Gill Paul novel, I had trouble connecting because of the above-mentioned facts. I still feel like I didn’t know Dorothy Parker all that well. I did enjoy finding out more about the starting up and the early days of The New Yorker magazine. I would recommend for anyone who enjoys historical fiction set in the 1920s, or for fans of Dorothy Parker and her friends.

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