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Love and All That Jazz:
The Great Romances of the 1920s
by Jamie Brenner
If there was any era when American women were more fabulous than the women of the 1920s, I can’t imagine it. After reading the nonfiction book Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz, I was inspired to write my first historical novel, The Gin Lovers, set in 1925 Manhattan. The 1920s — the dawn of the flapper era, the onset of Prohibition, and the rise of jazz — was arguably the most dramatic decade in American history. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion that it was also the most romantic. I was struck by how many couples of the time still influence us today – in films, in movies, in music. Here is a look at five of the most fascinating couples of the 1920s:
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre
The golden couple of the 1920s (or in today’s parlance, the Brangelina of their time) F. Scott (author of The Great Gatsby) and Zelda married on April 3, 1920. He called her the “first American flapper,” and their life was regarded as the ultimate in glamour. In reality, their relationship was marred by alcoholism, infidelity, and mental illness. But for a shining moment, theirs was a relationship dreams (and bestsellers) were made of.
Related reading: Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford
Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh
The author of Gone With the Wind married newspaper editor John Marsh, on July 4, 1925; Marsh had been best man at her first wedding with “Red” Upshaw and legend has it that both men courted Mitchell in 1921 and 1922, but Upshaw proposed first. She shocked Atlanta society by keeping her own name. (Bringing to mind her novel’s famous line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”)
Related reading: Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker
Hadley Richardson married Ernest Hemingway in 1921 after a courtship of less than a year.They moved to Paris, joining a notorious crowd of expats that included James Joyce, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. Ernest and Hadley’s and their tumutlous relationship most recently celebrated in the bestselling novel The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Hemingway cheated on her and they divorced in 1926 around the time he was writing The Sun Also Rises. While the marriage didn’t have longevity, it had tons of glamour and literary street cred.
Related reading: Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife by Gioia Diliberto
When Irving Berlin, one of the all-time greatest song writers (“White Christmas” “God Bless America”) married Ellin Mackay, the Comstock Lode heiress, the bride`s father wrote her out of his will for marrying a Jew. Berlin then assigned the copyright of his popular song, “Always”, to her. The royalties of that song alone made loss of her inheritance not much of a loss after all. Talk about a love song!
Related reading: Irving Berlin: A Daughter’s Memoir by Mary Ellin Barrett
Kate Middleton and Prince William have nothing on this couple: Most recently spotlighted in the movie The King’s Speech, this royal romance started in 1920, when Prince Albert became re-aquainted with childhood friend Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. He was determined to marry her, but she rejected his proposal twice — reportedly because she didn’t want to deal with the baggage of becoming a member of the royal family. Finally, after three years, true love prevailed, and they were married on 26 April 1923 in Westminster Abbey. Albert’s marriage to a British commoner was considered a step towards modernization. Lady Elizabeth became “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York” after their marriage, and when his brotherfamously abdicated the throne to be with the divorcee Wallis Simpson, Albert became King Georgie VI. A true happily ever after…
Related reading: The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by Lady Colin Campbell
These are just a few of the many famous – and infamous – love affairs of the 1920s. My fictional take on life and love in the roaring twenties, The Gin Lovers, publishes in paperback just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Set against the turbulent and glamorous backdrop of Prohibition and the rise of the jazz age, The Gin Lovers was first published as a six-part e-serial. Now this sensual and romantic story of how one high society woman’s passion and courage lead her to love is available for the first time ever as a complete book.
It’s 1925, and the Victorian era with its confining morals is all but dead. Unfortunately, for New York socialite Charlotte Delacorte, the scandalous flapper revolution is little more than a headline in the tabloids. Living with her rigid and controlling husband William, her Fifth Avenue townhouse is a gilded cage. But when William’s rebellious younger sister, the beautiful and brash Mae, comes to live with them after the death of their mother, Charlotte finds entrée to a world beyond her wildest dreams – and a handsome and mysterious stranger whom she imagines is as confident in the bedroom as he is behind the bar of his forbidden speakeasy.
Under the Covers reviewed this book when it was released as a serial, check out all our reviews here
Buy Now: Amazon
About the Author
Jamie Brenner grew up in Main Line Philadelphia on a steady diet of Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, and Aaron Spelling. Her latest novel, The Gin Lovers (St. Martin’s Press), will be out in paperback on February 12. Jamie writes erotic romance under the name Logan Belle, including the trilogy Blue Angel (Kensington), Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian (Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster), and the upcoming Miss Chatterley. Jamie lives in New York City. For more, please visit www.jamiebrenner.com or follow her@jamieLbrenner.