Best known for The Man Who Loved Children
, Stead (1920-83) draws on the two central biographical facts of her life for this apparently amoral tale of modern play, work, and sex, first published in 1946: her sad childhood in Australia and her later life among the New York intellectual crowd. In his introduction, Tim Parks argues for the admirable exuberance of Stead's admittedly flighty narrator. But Kirkus
was less sympathetic. Though we considered it "very modern and slightly racy"—with fine "digs" at then-fashionable life in New York City—we found its plot "slight," despite its sheer volume. Perhaps a bit old-fashioned, Kirkus
worried that Letty's apparent immorality might adversely influence "impressionable girls." Yes, there are "occasional flashes of good writing" and "bits of bitter humor," but Stead's sixth novel is "definitely fluff."
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