For many young women, the 1920s felt like a promise of liberty. It was a period when they dared to shorten their skirts and shingle their hair, to smoke, drink, take drugs and to claim sexual freedoms. In an era of soaring stock markets, consumer expansion, urbanization and fast travel, women were reimagining both the small detail and the large ambitions of their lives.
In Flappers, acclaimed biographer Judith Mackrell follows a group of six women - Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Tamara de Lempicka - who, between them, exemplified the range and daring of that generation's spirit. For them, the pursuit of experience was not just about dancing the Charleston and wearing fashionable clothes. They made themselves prominent among the artists, icons, and heroines of their age, pursuing experience in ways that their mothers could never have imagined, seeking to define what it was to be young and a woman in an age where the smashing of old certainties had thrown the world wide open.
Talented, reckless and wilful, with personalities that transcended their class and background, they re-wrote their destinies in remarkable, entertaining and sometimes tragic ways. And between them they blazed the trail of the New Woman around the world.
Flappers is all good, dirty fun . . . Mackrell is an engaging storyteller with a deceptively light touch
Cressida Connolly, Sunday Telegraph
Offers a way to look beyond the clichés of the Roaring Twenties into what was actually going on in these women's heads. Mackrell - who writes with great brio - shows us the uncertainly and confusion that often lay behind the brittle artifice.
Bee Wilson, Sunday Times
Scintillating ... Mackrell is clever at painting the subtly complex picture of these women's lives from giddy high spirits to steadfast obstinacy, from emotional fragility to creative focus and weaving them together against a backdrop that is also writ clear. This enthralling, elegant book conjures up all the glamour and razzmatazz but never flinches from the caverns of pain beneath.
Caroline Jowett, Daily Express