This unusual book was a win from LibraryThing, and I enjoyed it immensely. Nils Hanson's mother was hired back in the 1920s to be a sort of companion to Lillian Lorraine but mostly to rein in Lorraine's wilder tendencies. Hanson actually met the Ziegfeld girl as a boy. Despite that, he wasn't really interested in his mother's connection with the Ziegfeld Follies until after her death when he found a small trunk in her attic full of memorabilia from those days. His parents had believed it was better to shield him from the lives of celebrities. The trunk finally opened that world to him.
He now heads a Ziegfeld Club in New York where he has access to surviving Ziegfeld girls and their treasured memories. This book represents his retirement project and I wouldn't want anyone to pick it up thinking it is great literature. There are a few repetitions and sometimes the story can jump around a little, but all in all, despite many setbacks, Hanson has written a captivating book.
You'll learn mostly about Lorraine herself of course, but also about stars such as W. C. Fields (and his illegitimate son), Will Rogers, Florenz Ziegfeld and his women, Billie Burke (Ziegfeld's last wife), and the splashy lives some of these people led. Lorraine, for instance, didn't have any sense about money so she lived it up when she had it, and got by when she didn't. Her later life is a tragic story, much of it her own fault.
Ah, but when Lillian Lorraine was 17 and unbelievably beautiful and genuine and a fresh-faced Ziegfeld Follies girl, she was on top of the world. Ziegfeld was said to love her from the day he met her. He made her a star like no other.
There are pictures on almost every page in this book of the stars, the Follies, the big names of the 1920s. It's worth buying the book just to have the pictures, but the story of an entertainment genius and his protege, and a city reveling in an anything-goes atmosphere before the crash is all here as well.