Inventing the It Girl: How Elinor Glyn Created the Modern Romance and Conquered Early Hollywood

Blackstone Audio. Jul. 2022. 16:13 hrs. ISBN 9798212005845. $64.95. BIOG
Historian Hallett (Columbia Univ.; Go West, Young Women!) offers an engrossing biography of Elinor Glyn (1864–1943), who invented the modern romance novel and popularized the notion of the “It Girl.” Glyn did not have much formal education, but she did have the run of her father’s extensive library. In class-conscious 1890s England, she understood that she needed to marry into both wealth and class. She accomplished this but was disappointed by her husband, long addicted to alcohol and compulsive gambling. To support her family, she began to write racy novels with suggestive sexual content, penning her wildly popular, best-selling novel Three Weeks in 1907. Glyn’s steamy love scenes were written to be suggestive but not explicit, with dominant characters possessing the magical animal magnetism she called “it.” Glyn eventually moved to the United States, where she wrote and directed some movies and launched the career of Clara Bow, the original Hollywood It Girl.
VERDICT Narrator Pamela Almand’s consistent and well-paced delivery brings Glyn’s life into focus, highlighting her evolution as a writer and an advocate for women. A perfect fit for biography listeners and those interested in the early days of Hollywood.
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