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|Title||:||She Done Him Wrong (Virago Modern Classics)|
|Number of Pages||:||198 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
She Done Him Wrong (Virago Modern Classics) Reviews
3.5 stars rounded up.I never realised Mae West was a writer, but she wrote several novels and plays. This started life as a stage play, then became the film of the same name (co-starring a very young Cary Grant) and also this novel; now republished by virago. West’s life is well documented as is her persona and the famous one-liners (and there are plenty in the novel). West started on the stage from an early age and left school at 12. Her experience was gained in Vaudeville and music hall performing all sorts of guises including a male impersonator. Eventually West began to pen her own material, which was often risqué and frequently got her into trouble and even jail (ten days for “corrupting the morals of youth” in 1927 for the content of her first play). Her first play was entitled Sex and later she wrote The Drag which considered homosexuality and cross-dressing; West was a long standing supporter of gay rights. West was renowned for her one liners (“Climbing the career ladder wrong by wrong”, “Between two evils I always pick the one I never tried before” to name two that are not quite as well known) and the novel is full of them. The plot is very similar to the 1933 film when West played the main character Diamond Lil. Diamond Lil is a woman who measures her men by how many diamonds they can give her. The physical description of her very much matches that of West herself. Her lover has been jailed for theft and she has moved her attentions to Gus Jordan (this is set in New York in the 1890s) who is well off, owns a bar and has a number of shady business interests. Jordan also has political ambitions, but a toxic secret in that he is part of a group who sends (sells) women into prostitution in South America. There are plenty of others around who would like to depose Jordan. In all of this mix is a Salvation Army captain; Captain Cummings who Lil finds that she is rather attracted to. The police are also alleged to have someone undercover and Lil’s ex-lover breaks out of jail vowing revenge. Stage set for lots of mayhem. This is not what you would call a literary masterpiece, but it reads very easily. Although there is a certain neatness and predictability about it, there are some twists along the way. West writes quite openly about Lil’s motivations. She isn’t in love with any of her men; she uses them for what they can give her without sentimentality. Even when she seems to fall for the Salvation Army captain, you can sense her winking over her shoulder. When she briefly enjoys a fling with a young Brazilian paramour she quite happily writes about a moment of “exploding stars and bursting suns”. There is a down to earth zest for life here which is refreshing; West and her protagonist both had to learn how to make their way in a very masculine world.
The ultimate rollicking good read. I knew that Mae West was much more than a performer, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that on top of being a wit, she knew how to tell a story effectively. Her central character is Diamond Lil, a beautiful woman with elastic morals yet a deep sense that the Salvationists, bores that they are, deserve her help. Lil has struck it rich with Gus Jordan, boss of the Bowery, whose campaign to become sheriff is undermined by his involvement in the white slave trade from which he derives most of his income. His partner in that business is the ruthless Rita, whose gigolo Juarez falls for Lil, as does everyone. Juarez is eventually recruited by Dan Flynn, Jordan's arch rival, to get the dope on Jordan's shipments to South America. And to liven things up, Lil's former lover Chick Clark breaks out of jail and comes looking for her… I must be a little bit dim since I didn't anticipate the last twist of the plot. Classic case of retrospective: But of course!!!