THE PRODIGAL WOMEN by Nancy Hale

THE PRODIGAL WOMEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This bids fair to be one of the most discussed novels of the Fall. Some will great it with enthusiasm for its achievement in mirroring a turbulent period of emotional upheaval, in giving form to what others have tried to and failed. Other readers will hate it for its daring, its realism, its over-frankness, its acceptance of the fact that ""the prodigal women"" exist, even among the people we all know. (Definitely, it is a book to ""red flag"" for public libraries.) Beatrice Borst tried to do something of this in Nearer the Earth (see Page 289) -- and failed, in my opinion. Nancy Hale, by building her story of the '20's and '30's around three girls instead of one has made it more convincing. There is Leda March, in her teens self conscious, ingrown, painfully sure she is different and unpopular; there are the two Jekyil girls, Malaie, who shaokies Lambert Rudd with the timeworn ailing wife role, and Betsy, who marries in haste and refuses to repent, but carves out for herself a career which denies the ""double standard"", until Hector Connolly comes into her orbit and forces her into perpetual recall and fear of her own past. Leda -- in her girlhood -- was to me the most challengingly drawn character; as she assumed the mantle of woman of the world, she became less real. As foil Lambert Rudd struck sparks from both his women -- Maile, whom he had been forced to marry, and Leds, who proved -- up to the close --the perfect mistress. Nancy Hale has managed to draw a despicable character in rather fascinating lines. In fact, she has made her readers understand and, at times, sympathise with each of her characters in turn -- though there is a brittleness in handling that rarely breaks through the surface to touch a chord of poignance. A brilliant job. And a difficult one.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1942
Publisher: Scribner