This evening I got around to finishing the book I had mentioned I started reading recently, “The Best of Everything,” by Rona Jaffe, that I had said was like “Mad Men” from the woman’s point of view (think Joan Holloway), as the story of three young women who came to New York looking for something, and none of them found what they expected. One came looking for an acting career and found the perfect husband. One came to forget being jilted by her fiance, and found a career she loved. The third hoped to advance her acting career by getting know the “right people” and became involved in an obsessive love affair that eventually destroyed her. There are other ancillary women in the story who eventually found what they wanted in life, particularly in the 1950s, which was to be happily married and start their families.
The story is very well written and engrossing, but I found it incredibly sad as well. All three of these women did things most of us have done at one time or another, meaning they changed themselves to try to hang onto relationships doomed to failure, and debased themselves by sometimes clinging, groveling and behaving obsessively to the point where I nearly cried out at the page, “Don’t DO that! Have a little pride, for God’s sake!” Most of us have done a little of that at least, and it makes me sad for all of us. We want so badly to love and be loved, and sometimes we unknowingly do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.
Things turned out fine for one of the women, okay for the second and tragically for the third, but by that time I began to feel sorry even for the one who literally drove off into the sunset with the perfect husband. Who knows how things will turn out for them in time? Even Mr. Perfect can’t be counted on forever, in many cases.
Well, after this, I need to get back to reading something a bit lighter; a lifting of the spirits is in order.