<i>VANITY FAIR</i>'S WOMEN ON WOMEN by Radhika Jones


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A vigorous selection of essays spanning the magazine’s modern era that underscore the combative resilience of notable accomplished women who never gave in to what was expected of them.

Perusing the list of subjects—including, among many others, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Tiny Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Frida Kahlo, Michelle Phillips, Princess Diana, Tina Turner, and Lady Gaga—it’s clear that a major theme of the collection is overcoming adversity. The profiles are divided into “Comedians,” “White House,” “Society and Style,” “Renegades,” “Musicians,” “the House of Windsor,” “The Stars,” and “In Their Own Words,” and the content spans the last four decades of editors-in-chief, including Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, and Jones, the current EIC. Yes, the pieces engagingly capture the celebrity of many of the subjects, but they are also culturally relevant and timely—e.g., “The Change Agent,” about actor Michelle Williams, who forced a reckoning over the wide discrepancy in pay between men and women in Hollywood. Written as minibiographies, the profiles serve as poignant tales of how one rises and falls and then rises again. In “Deconstructing Gloria” (1992), Leslie Bennetts examines how Gloria Steinem caused a major scandal by dating real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman, as if she were betraying all her feminist ideals: “Trashing her became the favorite spectator sport of the smart set.” In Maureen Orth’s piece on Tina Turner, the singer recounts candidly how she was abused physically and emotionally by Ike Turner for decades; though many witnessed the mistreatment, “no one ever intervened.” Along with bubbly profiles of style icons Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, Laura Jacobs offers an astute piece on Emily Post, who turned a soured marriage and scandalous divorce into a satisfying new career as a bestselling writer. Finally, there are a cluster of recent essays delineating the fallout of the #MeToo movement by those closest to the subject in film, literature, and Wall Street.

Besides making for absorbing reading, these essays pack a feminist wallop.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-56214-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019


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