Audiobook · Biography · Celebrities · History · Julia P · Non-Fiction

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee | by Karen Abbott

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
by Karen Abbott
(Random House, 2010, 320 pages)

This is the biography of famous burlesque star, Gypsy Rose Lee.  I have to admit I hadn’t heard of her before picking up this book, but now I’m intrigued.  This is the burlesque star that the Broadway show, Gypsy, is based on.  Abbott does a great job giving you a true sense of the time when vaudeville was going out and burlesque was coming in, in a big way.  You not only get Gypsy’s biography, you get a great history lesson about American culture and how it shifted throughout the early 20th century.

Apparently Gypsy Rose Lee did a pretty impressive job trying to keep her true identity and past a secret since it didn’t line up with the persona she had created.  Abbott did a considerable amount of research to try and give you the whole story.  She takes you inside the intense/co-dependent relationship Gypsy shared with her mother and sister – all of whom were entrenched in the world of show business.  We learn that these women, especially Gypsy, had no lack of ambition and would do anything to get ahead.  Even when she was at the top of her game, she didn’t live in an ostentatious way.  Learning extreme frugality from her mother, Gypsy was always concerned about her money and never wanted to see it squandered when it could be saved.

This was an interesting read for me.  I love reading about New York City in the early 20th century (which played a starring role in this book), and I also really just enjoy reading about the period of U.S. history between the 1920s and 1950s.  American Rose was an enjoyable read and it did a great job in making me want to learn more about the mystery that is Gypsy Rose Lee.  Also, since I listened to this as an audiobook, the narrator gave a great reading of the book.

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