Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

Meet Lorelei Lee, native of Little Rock and inveterate gold digger.  Men are useful for just one thing: buying Lorelei and her friend Dorothy presents.  Over the course of less than six months Lorelei inveigles them into buying orchids, bracelets, soft toys, champagne and, most memorably, a diamond tiara from the unfortunate gentlemen friends who are stupid enough to be taken in by her.  As Lorelei says, she has brains, and although some might question  Lorelei 's self-assessment, I think she's exactly right.

I remember reading once that a man called Howard Gardiner thought there were many sorts of intelligence: kinetic, linguistic, logistic, literate ( I think were some he mentioned), but having read this book I feel confident I can add one more: manipulative.  I know lots of people that have it (politicians for instance, fraudsters, magicians and lawyers), and if this sort of intelligence had a scale Lorelei would be right at the top.  In the introduction, Anita Loos describes how Lorelei was based on a real person she saw on a train: even though she was not petite men leapt up to help her.  It reminded me of an incident I also saw on a train: a young sturdy woman reaching to put a bag on the rack above her head and a handful of men leaping up to help.  This woman was not particularly vulnerable, attractive or incapable and yet she had a bunch of male strangers dancing to attention around her - most of them quite uselessly.  In fact a couple of them were preventing me from putting my bag on the rack.  I, much shorter and slighter, struggled invisibly and, of course, unaided...   When I eventually got to my place I slyly examined the woman - what was it about her that allowed her to garner such attention?  I think Gentlemen Prefer Blondes provides one possible answer.

Written in diary form, rather like Bridget Jones's version, it is the tale of how the girl gets her man in the jazz age.  Its simplicity is deceptive (as I discovered when I tried to emulate the style) and even though written in the 1920s was just as funny to me reading it almost ninety years later.


Blogger Anne S said...

Interesting review Clare. Liked your take on different types of intelligence. Sounds as though you enjoyed the book. There is a sequel, if you're interested, called "But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" which continues the adventures of Lorelei and Dorothy.

Fri Jan 11, 01:31:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks Anne - yes, I certainly did!

I do find myself wondering what happened next - so shall certainly order the sequel. Thanks for letting me know.

Fri Jan 11, 09:02:00 am  

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