Doctor? Ziegfield Girl? Can one woman be both?

A Kiss from Mr, Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester is a tragic but winsome love story. In this period piece set in
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A Kiss from Mr, Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester is a tragic but winsome love story.

In this period piece set in the 1920’s, women had a place in society and were kept there by a system intent on squashing any progress. Women in Evelyn’s social structure were just expected to marry well and be good needlewomen. Hardly the life Evelyn wanted, and her dreams and ambitions were far beyond the expectations of her family.

A disturbing incident on the family doorstep changed her life forever, as she found a new focus and a new strength. Her fight to overcome prejudice was just starting, as her straight-laced parents and those in authority made her path more difficult.

Her desire to become a doctor was laughed at and every avenue barred, so Evie had to support herself. This she did, choosing a workplace which was even further removed from her society family … or was it? There were secrets and lies that would have an impact on her work ambitions and finding true love.

A Kiss for Mr FitzgealdLove came into Evie’s her life and often this became even harder for her to cope with, as she juggled life in the Ziegfield Follies and life in a hospital. This was a time when in the obstetrics departments barbaric practices were used, women had no say in what happened to their bodies. Labour was fraught with even more danger in these times, and surviving did not always mean life went on as normal. Women so damaged they were often left with infections and discomfort for the rest of their lives.

This was a time when in the obstetrics departments barbaric practices were used, women had no say in what happened to their bodies. Labour was fraught with even more danger in these times, and surviving did not always mean life went on as normal. Women so damaged they were often left with infections and discomfort for the rest of their lives.

For Evelyn, the dream of helping women still burned bright, yet the two halves of her life were a total contrast. Hardship, disease and long hours in the hospital then nights as a painted feather-decorated dancer showing the carefree side of the new age. The turbulence of her love life was never simple, never smooth running, just as she seemed to glimpse happiness a shadow from the past blotted out the sun. Her love for an orphaned child became a burden, as those close to her created problems.

So much of the story depicts an amazing time in history. Images of a time when great changes occurred. The nightclubs played jazz, music that shocked the establishment. Cocktails loosened morals, parties were wild, hair was bobbed for freedom, and the newer dances were not modest waltzes. Also in her workplace, Evelyn tried to cope with the bigotry of the age and deal with the frustration of being a woman in a man’s world. Her workplace was a cruel place, men playing mind games and obstructing all her talent and strength. Evelyn needed to be better in every way, just to keep her job. As family secrets impacted on her relationships and career, Evelyn had to find ways to deal with and overcome all this. As women, we owe the early pioneers who emerged from corseted and hobble-skirted days to become working women, with their effort we are truly emancipated.

Her workplace was a cruel place, men playing mind games and obstructing all her talent and strength. Evelyn needed to be better in every way, just to keep her job. As family secrets impacted on her relationships and career, Evelyn had to find ways to deal with and overcome all this. As women, we owe the early pioneers who emerged from corseted and hobble-skirted days to become working women, with their effort we are truly emancipated.

So this book not only contains a truly inspiring tale of one of the first women to be accepted at Columbia University, and a tender if troubled love story, but makes us grateful that the barriers were broken down for future generations of women.

Evie is just a character in a book, yet she depicts a woman who demanded equality, found love and like many women of that time found a place in history.

A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald, by Natasha Lester, published by Hachette Australia, is available now from Dymocks.

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