“Willie Morris has written a witty, intelligent, and engaging book about Washington . . . As a roman à clef, it is great fun.” — Jonathan Yardley, The New Republic
Carol Hollywell is beautiful, smart, elegant, and charming. A debutante from De Soto Point, Arkansas, and a recent graduate of Ole Miss, she is heir to a good southern name and a small southern fortune. She knows what she wants and, more important, knows how to get it. She is, in other words, the prototypical southern belle, a Scarlett O’Hara for the 1950s, and when she moves to Washington, D.C., in 1957, she sets the town on its ear.
Willie Morris’ cleverly conceived and brilliantly executed novel (loosely based on a real-life figure) follows this headstrong woman from her arrival at the Capital and traces the ups and downs of her life in the political and social whirl of the city over the next decade and a half. Eventually, she becomes romantically involved with a prominent congressman---an idealist, a reformer, a man perhaps headed for the very pinnacle of political life. It is at first a dazzling alliance, yet the genuine satisfactions they find in their relationship cannot long withstand the pressures of the ambitions both of them harbor. The very drives that initially brought them together in the end propel their love affair into jeopardy. Morris paints a devastatingly accurate portrait not only of a power-hungry woman but also of the society that feeds such hunger. His descriptions of Washington and its denizens—the politicos, the journalists, the socialites, and the hangers-on—are nothing short of breathtaking.
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