I so wanted to be a flapper when I was in my twenties, although by then it was the 90s. I bought retro coats and shoes. I still don’t think that any fashion before or since has come close in elegance or style (apart, perhaps, from the Empire-line dress).
The ‘flapper’ was intended to be a derogatory term but, like many of the same, it came to define a generation. This book shows, via the autobiographies of some high profile characters, how this Woman defined an era.
Of course there is Zelda Fitzgerald. And so there should be; if we can place this title on any one head it should be hers. This side of the pond we had our own Bright Young People but the flapper was an essentially American invention and Zelda exemplified the term. Yes, Scott defined it, but she was his muse and should be recognised as such. Zelda was beautiful, troubled and tragic and she paid the price for her early promise as she spiralled into madness and death. But before that there was glamour and love and an excess of passion.
It is that which makes the book so appealing. There is nothing downbeat about it. Alongside Zelda’s story there are parallel narratives which give us an overview of the sociological currents which gave rise to the right conditions for independently-minded women to find a place in the world.