Two things come to mind for us when we hear the phrase ‘flappers’ – firstly, an image of a decadent Gatsby party smattered with limby women doing the Charleston and secondly, an elegant Halloween costume choice, a tasselled dress and long sleeved gloves. In our eyes flapper girl have been immortalized in gorgeous slinky shifts, drinking endless cocktails with legions of handsome men fawning over them – who wouldn’t want to be these women?
Author Judith Mackrell does the wonderful job of destroying any pre-conceptions we might have had of these modernist figures in her addictive book, Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. Yes, there was a lot of dancing, drinking and canoodling for these women but there was a lot of drama in between (which, as it goes, makes for some seriously good reading!)
Exploring the lives of six of the most iconic women of the era — writer Zelda Fitzgerald, dancer Josephine Baker, artist Tamara de Lempicka, actress Tallulah Bankhead, poet Nancy Bankhead and countess Diana Cooper — Mackrell opens up their uniquely daring pasts to create a book that prickles with the heat and rhythm of the Jazz Age and leaves you completely slack-jawed. Whether it’s Josephine Baker’s rags to riches story of husbands at 15 and a whole lot of dancing or Zelda Fitzgerald’s tumultuous and fiery marriage and work, these women lived unlike anyone we’ve ever heard of before and Mackrell’s searing writing makes it sizzle. Get your flapper on this season and get reading now.