Book Notes: "The Flapper Wife" by Beatrice Burton

The Flapper WifeThe Flapper Wife by Beatrice Burton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I purchased this book because our 1923 Beale Pianola came with a roll, The Flapper Wife, a foxtrot from the 1920s. Our house dates to this period, and the 'twenties have always fascinated me through the works of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and many others. Two things I must record. First, the novel mentions the term "Mrs Grundy", which is defined as "A person with very conventional standards of propriety", and is used to describe how a prude might view a particular attitude or behaviour. Second, the book mentions the song being whistled by one of the characters. Given that Gloria, the protagonist, is mentioned in the song, I found this a little bizarre. But it appears that the words were written by our very own Beatrice Burton, and the music was composed by Carl Rupp, and recorded in 1925. It may well have been a clever package deal. If you are interested in a commentary of the plot, Mary Miley says it much better than me. But this was a real gem, and its long train wreck of a trajectory ends with an abrupt climax that, deep down, I (am I a long lost descendant of Mrs Grundy, I wonder?) wanted to happen (even though part of me wanted more of a Fitzgerald real-life ending). For its historical snapshot, this is a great read. As far as literature goes, that a train wreck can drag on for so long and keep me captivated, it is a real marvel. So the next time I play The Flapper Wife on our pianola, I will be "all over it like a tent" (as Ms Burton might say).

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