Almost Famous Women, Megan Mayhew Bergman
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Scribner
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss
I rarely choose to read short stories so I surprised myself at being drawn to Almost Famous Women, a short story collection by Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise. I am so glad that I requested this book!. I was intrigued by the concept of stories about women who had brushes with fame and were then somewhat lost to history. The stories bounce between a painter and a racially integrated swing band travelling the American south; and from Africa to England. As I read I was bouncing between Google and my kindle trying to learn more than the stories could give me. I certainly wasn’t familiar with Oscar Wilde’s niece Dolly or conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton. While I know of Butterfly McQueen of course, thanks to Gone with the Wind, I hadn’t given much thought to her life after the movies. I loved the photos that came with each story. Even though the stories were fictional I felt they were enriched with an image of who each woman was.
Some of these were too short for me- I have a hard time with stories that are basically a page long. But most of these stories both fulfilled me as a reader and left me wanting more -in a good way! The stories range in perspective, in time period, from toddlerhood to those at death’s door. The experiences ranging from a child living in an Italian convent to a private island off the U.S. coast kept each story fresh and fascinating. The writing was beautiful throughout and I really felt the longing and the sorrow, as well as the hope and love. Without always being in first person Bergman really me feel that I knew each woman and made her more than an almost famous name. I will definitely be checking out Bergman’s past book.
Thank you Scribner and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
I’m so glad to see this is working for so many people who don’t usually read short stories! I agree on some of the stories being a little too short (though the liberated concentration camp story was one of my favorites).
Its not that I disliked the story even-I just want so much more! I think I don’t like getting invested for such a short piece.
I have this one but while I was really excited about it when I first got it I’d kind of forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! Off to go pull it up.
I really want to read this! It’s probably hard to research these women who are not really famous – can’t be easy to find research materials about them.
This is already one of my favorite books of the year (although I guess technically I read it in 2014)
I can’t say I have heard of them either