So  I got this as a present (last Christmas or this year’s birthday, not entirely sure which) and it was on my wish list because of  a fascinating series of programmes about the 1920s which was shown on BBC4; one of the programmes had an interview with the writer of Anything Goes, Lucy Moore.

This interest in the 1920s faded slightly until recently when, following a mixture of inter-war-Mitford-madness and watching the film Bright Young Things I decided to pull this off the TBR stack and give it a go. I hadn’t fully appreciated that this was a biography of the Roaring Twenties i.e. the American rather than the British experience, but that doesn’t matter because it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The author covers a wide range of topics and in most of the chapters, which are thematic rather than chronological, she picks key character(s) or event(s) which are emblematic of the topic she’s considering at that point. As a technique that worked very well for me, illuminating the general from the particular.

So for example we have:

  • Prohibition through Al Capone;
  • Flappers and women in Hollywood through Zelda Fitzgerald and Mary Pickford;
  • Americans in Paris through Harry and Caresse Crosby
  • Hollywood through Chaplin and a variety of scandals
  • The New Yorker through Harold Ross, and so on.

It’s such an interesting and well-written book with lots of asides and nuggets and anecdotes  that I just wanted to go off and read more on each of the topics. And it made me glad in many respects that I wasn’t around in the 1920s, although if I had been I would probably have been working in a thread mill in my home town like my great-aunts did rather than swilling illegal cocktails.

Cocktails being very important now as then because as they say

you cannot make your shimmy shake on tea.

A mission statement that I can certainly get behind!