Almost Famous Women

Ehh…I’m torn between not caring for Almost Famous Women because it wasn’t my taste/style and liking it for forcing me to take a step out of my comfort zone.

Having just finished Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World and not having done my research before I ordered this book from the library (I’m doing the 2015 Reading Challenge and this one was a book “based on it’s cover”), I wasn’t expecting historical fiction. I thought I was going to be reading actual short biographies of these women.

I’m relatively sure I could draw the line between fact and fiction for all of these ladies, but going back to style issues, I’m not sure where the author drew her line. I’d like to hope that the goal was to having a snapshot of life that the real woman/women, if given a chance to read it would say “yes, that’s me/us”. But I think only someone who’d done as much research as the author did could judge that.

I guess my biggest issue with this book is that about half of the women showcased in this book I don’t really care to learn more about. These are the ones who were the used (and in my opinion abused) lovers of the (also female) famous. I guess there’s something interesting to be found in what would cause a woman without real prospects (given her time and place) would be drawn to women who are wealthy/famous/etc even though said lover treats the women like dirt. But I don’t glamorize these relationships when the perpetrator is male, so why should I be intrigued since the perpetrator is female? Maybe I’m callous, but whilst reading these snapshots I could only think “I’m sorry that you lack the self-esteem to realize that you deserve better than this asshole”.

My last critique is possibly not an issue: when can one accurately use the term “autobiography”? One of the snapshots is of the 4 year old illegitimate daughter of Lord Byron and is titled something along the lines of “The autobiography of Allegra”. The entirety of this snapshot is written from the perspective of her nurse and so I find it incorrect to label it an autobiography. Of course, there may be some other way to define autobiography which would make this usage correct and I’m open to that being the case.

Gentry Bros. Circus, 1920
Gentry Bros. Circus, 1920 by HistoryPhoto
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