I picked this book up in Oxfam last Saturday, along with another one by Laurie Graham, ‘The Future Housewives of America’. I did so entirely based on the cover. I like nice looking books with pastel women on them, because if I were a book cover that is the sort of book cover I would be and I feel no shame!
I’ve never heard of Laurie Graham before, which is odd considering just how ‘me’ this book was. Poppy Mintel, mustard heiress, growing up in New York in the 1910s is spoilt whilst also closely guarded by her mixed up mother and Aunt Fish. Desperate to taste freedom and independence, when she finally comes into her millions aged 21 Poppy goes all out. Fortunately for Poppy she gets into her twenties during THE Twenties, and becomes a mascot for her generation, doing everything the shop girls dream of. She marries a ‘writer’ and becomes involved in a vanguard set who spend their times drinking heavily and writing manifestos, learns to fly a plane and jets off to the South of France, and sets up a clothing store making adorable little flying suits for her pug.
Poppy as a character is awful, often incredibly unfeeling, annoyingly naive and selfish as only stupidly rich people can afford to be. As she grows up, however, she takes on the horrors of the age with aplomb, and her story becomes more than just her’s alone, but the story of the Western world in the 20th century.
The first third of the book is by far the weakest and I for a moment heavily regretted spending the last of my pennies on a writer I didn’t know, but I persevered and by the end of the book I was completely wrapped up in Poppy’s life, and had a little cry at the end.
I have to wait a couple of books to read The Future Housewives of America, which is set in the 1950s and looks a lot more Fannie Flagg, but if you love her, or Rebecca Wells, or indeed any American writing about families or the 1920s you are well worth giving Poppy Mintel a go. Plodding in places but overall lovely.