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Like all former 16-year-old girls, I've got a thing for Sylvia Plath. Recently, I picked up her new biography by Elizabeth Winder: Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953. Using the term "beach read" here should come as a compliment.
Rather than mimic the Gwyneth Paltrow biopic that portrayed a sullen suicidal poet, the book focuses on Plath's time as a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine, where she's "young, brilliant, and mischievous," and sounds like someone you'd really want to be BFFs with.
The book is as much a portrait of New York fashion in the '50s as it is a restructuring of Plath's legacy. The first few chapters put it in context (and show that some things haven't changed all that much): "During the war, women had skimped on perfume and gone without nylons—some had even drawn lines up their legs in black ink. Now European designers like Balmain, Balenciaga, and Christian Dior were beginning to design ready-to-wear collections for American department stores. (A Dior dress cost about $1,000; low-priced American copies cost as little as $24.99)"
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