Almost Famous Women
By: Megan Mayhew Bergman
Genre: Real Life Folk
After reading it I have to admit this book was perfectly titled. I had heard of a lot of the subjects Bergman writes about- Allegra Byron, Joe Carstairs, Tiny Davis, Dolly Wilde, etc. But mostly what I recognized were names I didn’t really know anything about their lives.
This is a relatively quick and interesting read. While the stories are made up and some deeper than others they are all looks into the lives of some fascinating women that were touched by fame in different ways. The only one I recognized immediately by name was Butterfly McQueen, who played Prissy in Gone with the Wind, who didn’t know nothing about birthin’ no babies. I didn’t know the end of her life or her views on the characters she played- touched on in her chapter- and I’d like to read more about her.
I also really enjoyed the Tiny Davis chapter about the International Sweethearts of Rhythm a mixed race all women group and the problems they faced while touring. While I think the best emotionally for me was the Allegra Byron bit told through the POV of a young widow who took care of her at the convent daddy dropped her and forgot about her in.
That was the real crux of this book. The stories themselves are not very in depth but in a lot of cases it made me want to read more. I should say outright these are not perhaps the nicest women. Several of them had serious problems and a couple of the stories are actually linked together (in the book at least) by severe trauma from having volunteered as ambulance drivers in World War I. Which was yet something else that I now want to read more about concerning the women’s contributions and how the effect on them was completely overlooked.
The stories also deal with drugs, race, and gender relations and in one case the death of a child. My one wish is that it would have been a little bit more in-depth but then again it was a nice way to dip my toe into these stories and I’m certainly going to chase a few more subjects and ideas down the research well.
Recommend: Yes– if you like biographies or dips into the lives of almost famous, often sad, dark and tragic stories about some really interesting women.