Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club: The Best of Everything

Justine Larbalestier and I have started a book club to talk about bestselling women’s fiction of the 20th century. We’re both curious about the whole idea of the publishing category of “women’s fiction,” particularly how and when that label started. And, of course, we also wanted to see how well the bestselling and most long lasting of the books with that label stand up. Because usually books like Valley of the Dolls (1966) and Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything (1958) and Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place (1958) are considered to be, at best, middle brow. Yet now some of these books are being taught in university and they’re all back in print or have remained in print.

Last month we started with Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. You can find the post and the discussion on Justine’s blog.

This month we’ll be reading The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, which happens to have been published the year I was born! Bonus excitement!

The Best of Everything (1958) is Rona Jaffe‘s first novel. It is the story of five young employees of a New York publishing company.

PLEASE JOIN US on April 28/29 (that pesky international date line): in the evening on Monday April 28 in the USA and Tuesday April 29 in the Oz/NZ; morning April 29 in the UK/Europe.

The primary focus of the discussion will be here, on my blog, where you can check in at any time, but at the following time we’ll have an hour’s discussion on Twitter as well:

TIMES: noon Eastern Standard Oz Time/ 10 pm ET (USA)/ 7 pm PT (USA)/ 4 pm Hawaii Time


3 thoughts on “Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club: The Best of Everything

  1. I love the idea of this book club, and am going to try to find a copy of this book! Hope I can find one in time.

    Also, a book recommendation (I don’t know if it was ever a bestseller though): have you ever read South Riding by Winifred Holtby? It was written in the 1930s but is amazingly modern and feminist. The protagonists include a spinster headmistress trying to turn around the local girls’ school, an elderly alderwoman and a teenage girl trying to stay in school over her family’s expectation that she drop out to care for her younger siblings. It’s a great book and one I think would appeal to you, if you haven’t already read it.

  2. South Riding is on our list, in fact! We’ll probably get to it in the late summer or fall. I think Peyton Place and Love is a Many Splendored Thing will be our May and June books.

  3. What a delightful spot. I’ll be checking in and reading the discussion. Maybe I’ll even play, some day.


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