Nancy Milford: Savage Beauty- The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Posted by nybookworm on October 17, 2009

millayI should begin this review by disclosing that the author, Nancy Milford, is a family friend.  It is because I know her personally that I first picked up this book but Nancy is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist and a  best-selling biographer so there is plenty of reasons to read her writing.  Nancy’s most famous biography is probably “Zelda” about Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubled wife but it was her biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) that most attracted me at the bookstore.  Edna St. Vincent Millay, known to her friends as Vincent, was a Pulitzer prize winning poet whose poetry and lifestyle became a symbol of the jazz age.  She began writing at a very early age and impressed much older critics and authors with a maturity of writing that no one expected from a teenage girl.  Both as a result of her early start and her youthful look even as  middle-aged woman, she became known as the girl poet and for much of her career impressed a mostly male critics circle with her femininity as much as her talent.  Millay’s talent, beauty and charm made her one of the most sought after women of her time and though she did eventually marry it was an open marriage that allowed Millay the freedom to continue to have affairs with both men and women for much of her life.  Milford does a superb job of describing Millay’s life and personality in the context of her extraordinary talent, her gender and the age in which she lived.  This was one of the best biographies I’ve read in a long time both because it introduced me to the life of an incredible woman and artist and because it was well-written, thoroughly researched and perfectly distilled by Milford.

Link to the book here:  http://www.amazon.com/Savage-Beauty-Life-Vincent-Millay/dp/039457589X


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