Thursday, August 11, 2016

Vera Caspary - Bedelia: the wickedest woman who ever lived

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Title: Bedelia

Author: Vera Caspary

Storyline: Charlie Carrington has married a babe, Bedelia.  They live the perfect life together, but careful what you wish for!  This is not your manic pixie dream girl there to get you out of your rut, Charlie.  Bedelia may be plotting to bury you under that rut--six feet under!  By day Bedelia is an earthy “Susie Homemaker” who transforms into a wild animal by night.  And why does the artist guy living down the street seem to know her?  You’ve got problems Charlie!  A Lusty suspense novel by Vera Caspary, author of the best selling “Laura.”  Was made into a popular WWII-era Hollywood film.  This is the Blackiston edition with dust jacket.  Blackiston brought hardcover books to the mass market using the same type setting plates used in the more expensive editions.  (Thanks to Wiki and IMDB)

Copyright: 1945; this Triangle Books edition dated Feb. 1947

Publisher:  The Blackiston Company

Format:  Cloth-bound hardcover

Page Count:  188

Author Biography:

Caspary, Vera (b.1899–1987) Vera Caspary’s own life as an independent working woman author, in an age when there were few, is worthy of novelization all on its own.  She lived from 1899 to 1987.  Born late in their lives to Jewish parents in Chicago, she was doted on.  She is most well known for having written the book and very successful Hollywood film noir “Laura,” which caused many girls of the time to receive that name.  Her education went no further than a typing course, but her life was the stuff of every office girls’ dreams.  She traveled and lived around the world, had best-selling novels, wrote and produced plays, was sought after as a writer by nearly every major Hollywood studio, got rich, went broke, and got rich again.  A very shrewd business person, Vera was able to write and sell manuals, periodicals, and correspondence courses for which she had no expertise, such as ballroom dancing.  She even manage to re-sell the same plot reworked as books and movie scripts four separate times.  She met the love of her life, worked with him as an equal partner, lived openly in sin with him, and married him when he became terminally ill.  She also had major intrigue in her personal life flirting with the communist party, then dumping them, and forcing two governments to bring her to England during a world war so she could be with her lover.  Vera’s experiences definitely provided the fodder the engaging thrillers she wrote.

Works include: A Manual of Classic Dancing (1922), Ladies and Gents (1929), The White Girl (1929), Music in the Street (1930), Thicker than Water (1932), Laura (1943), Bedelia (1945). Stranger Than Truth (1946), The Murder in the Stork Club (1946), The Weeping And The Laughter (1950), Thelma (1952), False Face (1954), The Husband (1957), Evvie (1960), Bachelor in Paradise (1961), A Chosen Sparrow (1964), The Man Who Loved His Wife (1966), The Rosecrest Cell (1967), Final Portrait (1971), Ruth (1972), Dreamers (1975), Elizabeth X (1978), The Secrets of Grown-Ups (1979), The Murder in the Stork Club and Other Mysteries (2009)

Castle Ugly: A Love Story by Mary Ellin Barrett

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Title: Castle Ugly

Author: Mary Ellin Barrett

Storyline: By all accounts this melodrama, Castle Ugly, is a good read.  Writers are advised to write what they know, and it seems, Mary Ellin Barrett did.  This is a tale of high strung mid-century artistic people vacationing on the tip of Long Island with their coterie of jaded and successful friends.  Mary Ellin tells it from the standpoint of a now adult family member, living in Europe,  and looking back on her childhood view of the events.  The novel probably doesn’t fall far from the author’s real experience as the daughter of a world-famous American composer, Irving Berlin.  The characters are all smart, bored, given to winding each other up, and getting involved with the wrong person.  But with all their smarts, they never seem to learn from their experience, even after karma catches up with them in the form of an epic hurricane!  The book jacket says this story is somewhere between the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald and la dolce vita depicted in that era’s art house cinema.  Want to know what it was like to be too smart, too talented, and too successful with too much time on your hands?  Read on!

Copyright: 1966; Book Club Edition

Publisher:  E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.

Format:  Cloth-bound hardcover

Page Count:  218

Author Biography:

Barrett, Mary Ellin (b.1926–) is the eldest daughter of famed American composer Irving Berlin (who can forget “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”?), and Ellin Mackay.  Despite her mom and dad having an unusual for the time May-December marriage blending their Jewish and Irish backgrounds, she had a typical well-to-do upbringing New York City where she attended The Brearly prepschool on the upper east side, and then went on to Barnard College.  Her mother, Ellin, was a novelist, short story writer, and contributor to the New Yorker Magazine.  Following in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a writer, Mary Ellin published three novels, a memoir of life with her father, and was the book critic for Helen Gurley Brown’s racy Cosmopolitan women’s magazine. (Thank you to Wiki, The New York Times, and IMDb)

Works Include: Castle Ugly (1966), An Accident of Love (1973), American Beauty (1981), and  Irving Berlin: a Daughter's Memoir (1995).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Private Duty by Faith Baldwin. Nurse's love x 3!

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Title:  Private Duty

Author:  Faith Baldwin

Storyline:  The heroine of our story, newly-minted registered nurse Carolyn Cutler, has a big problem on her hands---she wants to marry three guys!  Forget conflict of interest, Carolyn is telling herself she should tie the knot with her invalid house-bound boss, for whom she is a private duty nurse, because she feels sorry for him and loves his tender-aged son.  She also loves a surgeon at the hospital where she trained.  But does she love the doctor or just the idea of being married to one? But wait, there’s more!  Carolyn is also infatuated with a young ne’er-do-well whose claim to fame is racking up beach of promise suits because he proposes to everything in a skirt.  Apparently, the answer to these dilemmas comes to her in the midst of that frequent and much feared 1930s scourge: a labor riot!  Can’t make this stuff up, but author Faith Baldwin certainly could. Enjoy!

Copyright: 1935; this edition published March, 1941

Publisher:  Triangle Books

Format:  Cloth-bound hardcover

Page Count:  338

Author Biography:

Baldwin, Faith (b.1893–d.1978)  Faith Baldwin was a prolific writer of women’s fiction, having penned 85 books and stories.  When she died of a heart attack in 1978, she was still working, and was deemed the “doyenne of American light fiction writers” in her New York Times obituary. Some of her works were adapted into film screenplays during the golden age of Hollywood.  She also achieved fame for her advice column in the now defunct women’s magazine, Women’s Day, entitled “The Open Door,” named for an inviting door out to her garden.  Unfortunately, Faith was also slightly infamous for being party to a marketing scam of sorts.  She, and a number of other popular writers in the mid-1960s, were in the headlines for selling correspondence courses to aspiring writers. The advertising for the courses misled her customers to believe that their work would be personally reviewed by these famous writers.  An astute marketer nonetheless, having made millions on her books, rehabilitating her reputation and showing that she did care about the lowly reader may have figured into her decision to keep an extended correspondence with a young lonely girl, Kristen Houghton, who grew up to be an author of chick lit herself.  Faith, as it turns out, has achieved internet immortality on quotation websites for her pearls of wisdom such as: “Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations” or “Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness.” (Thank you to Wiki, Kristen’s Blog in the Huffington Post about Faith, and quotation websites everywhere!)

Works Include: Mavis of Green Hill (1921), Those Difficult Years (1925). Laurel of Stonystream (1923), Magic and Mary Rose (1924), Sign Posts (1924) Poems, Thresholds (1925), Three Women (1926), Departing Wings (1927), Alimony (1928), Betty (1928), Rosalie’s Career (1928), Broadway Interlude(1929) (with Achmed Abdullah), Garden Oats (1929), Incredible Year (1929), Broadway Sensation(1930) (with Achmed Abdullah), Judy: A Story of Divine Corners (1930), Make-Believe (1930), The Office Wife (1929), Babs, A Story of Devine Corners (1931), Mary Lou, A Story of Divine Corners (1931), Skyscraper (1931), Today’s Virtue (1931), District Nurse (1932), Girl On the Make (1932)(with Achmed Abdullah), Myra, A story of Divine Corners (1932), Self-Made Woman (1932), Weekend Marriage (1932), Beauty (1933), Love’s a Puzzle (1933), White Collar Girl (1933), American Family (1934), Honor Bound (1934), Innocent Bystander(1934), Within A Year (1934), Wife vs. Secretary (1935), The Puritan Strain (1935), Men Are Such Fools! (1936), The Moon's Our Home (1936), Private Duty (1936), Heart Has Wings (1937), Manhattan Nights (1937), That Man Is Mine (1937), Twenty-Four Hours a Day (1937), Enchanted Oasis(1938), Hotel Hostess (1938), Rich Girl, Poor Girl (1938), Comet Over Broadway (1938), Career By Proxy (1939), High Road (1939), Station Wagon Set (1939), White Magic (1939), Arizona Star (1940), Letty and the Law (1940), Medical Center (1940), Rehearsal for Love (1940), Something Special (1940), And New Stars Burn (1941), Heart Remembers (1941), Temporary Address: Reno (1941), Blue Horizons (1942), Breath of Life (1942), Rest of My Life With You(1942), Washington USA (1943), You Can't Escape (1943), Change of Heart (1944), He Married a Doctor (1944), A Job for Jenny (1945), No Private Heaven (1946), Woman on Her Way (1946), Give Love the Air (1947), Sleeping Beauty (1947), An Apartment for Peggy (1948), Marry for Money (1948), Golden Shoestring(1949), For Richer, For Poorer (1949), Look Out for Liza (1950), Tell Me My Heart (1950), The Whole Armour( 1951), Juniper Tree (1952), Widow’s Walk, Variations on a Theme (1954) Poems, Face Towards the Spring (1956), Many Windows: Seasons of the Heart (1958), Three Faces of Love(1958), Blaze of sunlight (1960), Testament of Trust (1960), Harvest of Hope (1962), The West Wind (1963), Living By Faith (1964), Lonely Man (1964), The Lonely Doctor (1964), Search For Tomorrow (1966) Novelization of TV Soap Opera, Evening Star (1966), There Is a Season (1966), Velvet Hammer (1969), Take What You Want (1971), Any Village (1972), One More Time (1972), No Bed of Roses (1973), New Girl in Town (1975), Time and the Hour (1975), Hold on to Your Heart (1976), Thursday's Child (1976), Adam's Eden (1977).