WHISTLED LIKE A BIRD by Sally Putnam Chapman


The Untold Story of Dorothy Putnam, George Putnam and Amelia Earhart
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 The biography of a bright, talented, adventurous, athletic, financially solvent woman who married a bright, talented, adventurous, etc., man, but whose life never seemed to live up to those promises. What's untold about this story is that Dorothy Binney Putnam was having an affair with a man 20 years younger some time before her publisher husband, George, met, published, and married Amelia Earhart. That takes Dorothy off the hook as an abandoned woman, but fails to answer the question: Does it matter to anyone except her relatives? Chapman is the granddaughter of Dorothy Putnam and the heir to Dorothy's diaries. Excerpts from the diaries set the stage for chapters in her life, from the early 1900s, when Dorothy was a teenager, to 1982, when she died, after surviving four husbands. (Her young lover, George Weymouth, was not one of the husbands.) Dorothy Putnam's home base both as daughter (to the inventor of Crayola crayons) and wife to Putnam was Sound Beach, Conn., where she built a memorable home, served as remarkable hostess, entertaining her husband's authors, and nurtured her children. She sailed with explorer William Beebe but was never able to exploit her adventurous spirit or her other talents--singer and pianist, plus she could whistle like a bird- -to achieve on her own. When she finally left Putnam to Earhart, she remarried within a month after her divorce was final and settled in Florida. This husband beat her, the next fled west to Hawaii, and the last--and ``best''--died after only four years of marriage. The diary entries that are the basis for this book are brief, almost brusque, and do not display what was apparently Dorothy's considerable charm. What's here finally is no more than a granddaughter's tribute to a woman who was the ex-wife of the man who married Amelia Earhart. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 24th, 1997
ISBN: 0-446-52055-1
Page count: 240pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997