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Lady Be Good

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

A moving portrait of Dorothy Hale, the legendary 1930s American socialite immortalized in one of Frida Kahlo’s most celebrated paintings.

In her vibrant debut novel Pamela Hamilton delivers glamour, romance, tragedy, a close and stormy friendship with famed playwright and Vogue and Vanity Fair editor Clare Boothe Luce and an enchanting story of a woman navigating incredible wealth and power in New York, Paris, Hollywood, and grand estates of the Gold Coast—a perfect book club read.

Lady Be Good transports us to the glittering, sumptuous era of 1920s New York as the exquisite American socialite Dorothy Hale comes of age. From convent-school debutante runaway to Ziegfeld showgirl to millionaire’s wife, Hale transforms herself into one of the most adored figures in the highest echelons of society.

Yet behind the public façade the darling of the press contends with heart-rending loss, gossip and betrayal, and a tempestuous friendship with Clare Boothe Luce. Surrounded by her fabulous circle of friends—Gertrude Stein, Fred Astaire, Cole Porter, James Roosevelt, Elsa Maxwell, and other iconic figures—Dorothy finds her way to the other side of heartbreak and prepares for a White House wedding. Then, suddenly, at age thirty-three, at the height of happiness and peak of her fame, she falls to her death. Her life story is revised and written into history by the tabloids and the famed and fêted that once stood by her side—leading to this novel’s stunning conclusion.

Former NBC producer Pamela Hamilton turns her journalism skills to discovering the facts about Dorothy Hale’s story, then spins them with color and life into breathtaking revelations about the irresistible and misunderstood glamour girl whose legend has endured for more than half a century.

Reviews
Immersed in the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood and New York City in the roaring 1920s and into the ’30s, Hamilton’s debut novel sheds light on the life and death of the socialite Dorothy Hale. Chronicling Hale's life from her early school days to the aspiring actress’s rise to fame and, finally, to her untimely death, Hamilton pieces together Hale's existence in a sweeping historical fiction that pulses with romance, drama, high society life, and tragedy. Touching Hale's encounters and friendships with luminaries such as Cole Porter, Fred Astaire, Fanny Brice, and George and Ira Gershwin, whose hit song provides Hamilton’s title, Lady Be Good combines character study, historical recreation, and the welcome fizz of a Hollywood tell-all.

Hamilton instantly captivates readers by dramatizing Hale’s death by suicide in “a black velvet dress from Bergdorf Goodman” in the opening chapter. Writing with beautiful detail, she delivers riveting insight into the events that culminated in that ending, especially Hale’s highly active life in old Hollywood and Manhattan. The elegant timeframe and high fashion of the era, replete with Broadway stars, jazz music, and roaring parties that would be the envy of Gatsby’s crowd. Hale was in the thick of high society life, and through big breaks and let downs, grand romances and heartaches, Hamilton paints a striking portrait of this extraordinary life much like Frida Kahlo did, too, when she immortalized the troubled socialite in one of her most famous paintings.

"The more success you have, the more people want to take you down," is Fred Astaire’s sage advice to Hale, a truth that captures the spirit of her fight to hold fast to her rising star. With precision and careful research, Hamilton reveals the story of a woman determined to make a name for herself in a world ruled by men and governed by money, power, and connections. Readers who love glamorous historical fiction will be mesmerized by the life of Dorothy Hale.

Takeaway: An entertaining and appealing account of Dorothy Hale’s life, full of pomp and old Hollywood glamour.

Great for fans of: Adriana Trigiani’s All the Stars in Heaven, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"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."

Manhattan Book Review (five-star review)

This book is delicately woven into a masterpiece of fact and fiction. Hamilton writes with eloquence and precision. She has an amazing gift for figurative language, creating imagery that unfolds seamlessly."

Readers' Favorite (five-star review)

"Lady Be Good is an extraordinary work about a remarkable woman in a unique period . . . Pamela Hamilton writes with such gravitas and dedication, delivering a framework of facts and research assembled with an imaginative pen."

News
05/28/2021
Award-Winning Author Pamela Hamilton in a Rare Interview on New Books Network

New Books Network host Carolyn Pouncy interviews author Pamela Hamilton about her career as an NBC News producer, writing about historical figures, the real story about famed editor and diplomat Clare Boothe Luce, and the fascinating backstory of how she came to learn of Dorothy Hale, the legendary 1920s socialite immortallized in one of Frida Kahlo's most famous and controversial paintings.

04/15/2021
BookReporter Predicts Buzz for LADY BE GOOD

BookReporter Spring Preview 2021

 

04/23/2021
LADY BE GOOD Selected by Literary Hub as a Must-Read

Bad Girl Debutantes, Rebellious Nuns, and a Pregnant Moose. Five most stellar books of fiction with unusally affecting female characters...

08/25/2021
LADY BE GOOD Wins American Fiction Award

Lady Be Good by debut novelist Pamela Hamilton is selected as an Award-Winning Finalist in the General Fiction category of the 2021 American Fiction Awards.

05/28/2021
LADY BE GOOD Wins at the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards

Pamela Hamitlon is honored with two National Indie Excellence Awards for her debut novel Lady Be Good.

09/01/2021
LADY BE GOOD Wins Silver Medal from Readers' Favorite International Book Awards

Pamela Hamilton's fictionalized biography of the legendary 1920s socialite Dorothy Hale is awarded a Silver Medal from the Readers' Favorite Book Awards. 

05/28/2021
The Price of Friendship by C.P. Lesley

"Even those of us who are not religious in the traditional sense comfort ourselves with the belief that our names will live on in the memories of families and friends. But suppose your friends—perhaps with the best of intentions, but possibly not—construct a story of your life and your untimely death that at best gives undue weight to your failings and at worst wholly ignores your strengths?  That question drives Lady Be Good, Pamela Hamilton’s debut novel about the dancer, actress, artist, and socialite Dorothy Hale..."

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