THE THREE LIVES OF HARRIET HUBBARD AYER by

THE THREE LIVES OF HARRIET HUBBARD AYER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The remarkable, and it might seem unbelievable were it not true, story of Harriet Hubbard Ayer who achieved tremendous success as a society beauty, as a businesswoman, and as a newspaperwoman, but who was also pilloried and persecuted- at the cost of all she held dear- this has, of course, a potent human interest. A seemingly dull girl at 15, when this account begins, Harriet married- at 16- wealthy, spoiled Herbert Ayer and as she grew up to reveal her qualities of imagination and independence, energy and taste, their interests became increasingly disparate. The disaster of the Chicago fire in which she lost her baby was a longlasting grief and as she ended her marriage- a short time before Herbert's bankruptcy- she took her two girls to New York. Working to support them, she accepted the financial help of attractive Jim Seymour but refused him (and all others) as a lover, and consequently sparked the vindictive years which followed in which he collaborated with a European doctor to keep her drugged and to take Margaret- her youngest- away from her. In the notorious trial which followed, Harriet was vindicated- but it cost her her children. In the next years, Herbert tricked her into an asylum- a frightful ""house of despair"" from which she eventually secured her release. Without money (her business had skidded sharply) but still with great courage, she started again, established herself as a writer on the World and before her death resumed a clone relationship with Margaret who tells her story.... The period here (which ends with her life)- at the turn of the century,- of feminist assertion outside the home, adds to the life of a woman of enterprise and endurance which other women should find highly readable.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1957
Publisher: Lippincott