The Best of Everything (1958): Rona Jaffe


The easiest way I can describe this book, which follows four young women working in a New York publishing house in the early 1950s, is to ask you to think of Sex and the City crossed with Mad Men. With that description in mind you might be tempted to write it off as sugary vintage froth: a feast of twin-sets, cocktails and giggling bespectacled secretaries called Mary-Jane or Betty-Ann. But you’d be doing it an injustice. First published in 1958, this novel was written before the period had a chance to be romanticised, when the author herself had similar experiences fresh in her mind. It’s darker, shrewder and considerably more rewarding than you might expect.

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