The Prodigal Women

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An uncompromising literary portrait of the interior lives of women, The Prodigal Women was an explosive hit when published in 1942, the scent of scandal propelling it to the bestseller list. It tells the intertwined stories of Leda March, a lonely New England schoolgirl, and Betsy and Maizie Jekyll, daughters of a transplanted Virginia clan who upend Boston society, tracing their friendship from adolescence into adulthood, through childhood bullying, a string of abusive marriages, dangerous liaisons, botched abortions, and feminist awakenings, with Leda ultimately turning her back on love and desire and embracing her own mysterious inner strength. Fascinating and gripping, The Prodigal Women was a crucial influence on such later works as Mary McCarthy's The Group and Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, and it remains powerfully resonant today.