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You’ve met the extra woman: she’s sophisticated, she lives comfortably alone, she pursues her passions unabashedly, and—contrary to society’s suspicions—she really is happy. Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for a brief, exclamatory period in the late 1930s, she was all the rage. A delicious You’ve met the extra woman: she’s sophisticated, she lives comfortably alone, she pursues her passions unabashedly, and—contrary to society’s suspicions—she really is happy. Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for a brief, exclamatory period in the late 1930s, she was all the rage. A delicious cocktail of cultural history and literary biography, The Extra Woman transports us to the turbulent and transformative years between suffrage and the sixties, when, thanks to the glamorous grit of one Marjorie Hillis, single women boldly claimed and enjoyed their independence. Marjorie Hillis, pragmatic daughter of a Brooklyn preacher, was poised for reinvention when she moved to the big city to start a life of her own. Gone were the days of the flirty flapper; ladies of Depression-era New York embraced a new icon: the independent working woman. Hillis was already a success at Vogue when she published a radical self-help book in 1936: Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. With Dorothy Parker–esque wit, she urged spinsters, divorcées, and “old maids” to shed derogatory labels and take control of their lives, and her philosophy became a phenomenon. From the importance of a peignoir to the joy of breakfast in bed (alone), Hillis’s tips made single life desirable and chic. In a style as irresistible as Hillis’s own, Joanna Scutts, a leading cultural critic, explores the revolutionary years following the Live-Alone movement, when the status of these “brazen ladies” peaked and then collapsed. Other innovative lifestyle gurus set similar trends that celebrated guiltless female independence and pleasure: Dorothy Draper’s interior design smash, Decorating Is Fun! transformed apartments; Irma Rombauer’s warm and welcoming recipe book, The Joy of Cooking, reassured the nervous home chef that she, too, was capable of decadent culinary feats. By painting the wider picture, Scutts reveals just how influential Hillis’s career was, spanning decades and numerous best sellers. As she refashioned her message with every life experience, Hillis proved that guts, grace, and perseverance would always be in vogue. With this vibrant examination of a remarkable life and profound feminist philosophy, Joanna Scutts at last reclaims Marjorie Hillis as the original queen of a maligned sisterhood. Channeling Hillis’s charm, The Extra Woman is both a brilliant exposé of women who forged their independent paths before the domestic backlash of the 1950s trapped them behind picket fences, and an illuminating excursion into the joys of fashion, mixology, decorating, and other manifestations of shameless self-love.


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You’ve met the extra woman: she’s sophisticated, she lives comfortably alone, she pursues her passions unabashedly, and—contrary to society’s suspicions—she really is happy. Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for a brief, exclamatory period in the late 1930s, she was all the rage. A delicious You’ve met the extra woman: she’s sophisticated, she lives comfortably alone, she pursues her passions unabashedly, and—contrary to society’s suspicions—she really is happy. Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for a brief, exclamatory period in the late 1930s, she was all the rage. A delicious cocktail of cultural history and literary biography, The Extra Woman transports us to the turbulent and transformative years between suffrage and the sixties, when, thanks to the glamorous grit of one Marjorie Hillis, single women boldly claimed and enjoyed their independence. Marjorie Hillis, pragmatic daughter of a Brooklyn preacher, was poised for reinvention when she moved to the big city to start a life of her own. Gone were the days of the flirty flapper; ladies of Depression-era New York embraced a new icon: the independent working woman. Hillis was already a success at Vogue when she published a radical self-help book in 1936: Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. With Dorothy Parker–esque wit, she urged spinsters, divorcées, and “old maids” to shed derogatory labels and take control of their lives, and her philosophy became a phenomenon. From the importance of a peignoir to the joy of breakfast in bed (alone), Hillis’s tips made single life desirable and chic. In a style as irresistible as Hillis’s own, Joanna Scutts, a leading cultural critic, explores the revolutionary years following the Live-Alone movement, when the status of these “brazen ladies” peaked and then collapsed. Other innovative lifestyle gurus set similar trends that celebrated guiltless female independence and pleasure: Dorothy Draper’s interior design smash, Decorating Is Fun! transformed apartments; Irma Rombauer’s warm and welcoming recipe book, The Joy of Cooking, reassured the nervous home chef that she, too, was capable of decadent culinary feats. By painting the wider picture, Scutts reveals just how influential Hillis’s career was, spanning decades and numerous best sellers. As she refashioned her message with every life experience, Hillis proved that guts, grace, and perseverance would always be in vogue. With this vibrant examination of a remarkable life and profound feminist philosophy, Joanna Scutts at last reclaims Marjorie Hillis as the original queen of a maligned sisterhood. Channeling Hillis’s charm, The Extra Woman is both a brilliant exposé of women who forged their independent paths before the domestic backlash of the 1950s trapped them behind picket fences, and an illuminating excursion into the joys of fashion, mixology, decorating, and other manifestations of shameless self-love.

30 review for The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darcysmom

    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. I expected that I would like this book; however, I didn't expect that I would find it inspirational, nor did I expect for any of it to move me emotionally. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I connected with the material. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of Marjorie Hillis, now I want to track down all of her books and read them. Joanna Scutts did an admirable job of using Marjorie's wo I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. I expected that I would like this book; however, I didn't expect that I would find it inspirational, nor did I expect for any of it to move me emotionally. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I connected with the material. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of Marjorie Hillis, now I want to track down all of her books and read them. Joanna Scutts did an admirable job of using Marjorie's work to trace the social rise and fall of women (both single and married) from the tail end of the Roaring 20s to today. Of course, there is more focus on the single woman, but as Marjorie Hillis would immediately recognize, the search for fulfilment doesn't have a marital status. The things Marjorie Hillis advocated for in the 1930s - " happiness, independence, pleasure, and the right to be alone," were revolutionary then, and still far too difficult for most people to attain. I am walking away from this book with a renewed sense of determination and optimism that it is possible to create the life I want and find happiness within myself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    mis fit

    Very interesting story of Marjorie Hillis, author of a series of books encouraging single women to embrace the Live-Alone lifestyle from the 1920's through 1950's. Scutts does a great job providing the historical context in which Hillis was writing: changing trends in marriage, divorce, and labor force participation, accompanying cultural shifts, as well as the emergence of the self-help movement. This is a fun and enjoyable read, and a reminder that what we may consider "appropriate" options fo Very interesting story of Marjorie Hillis, author of a series of books encouraging single women to embrace the Live-Alone lifestyle from the 1920's through 1950's. Scutts does a great job providing the historical context in which Hillis was writing: changing trends in marriage, divorce, and labor force participation, accompanying cultural shifts, as well as the emergence of the self-help movement. This is a fun and enjoyable read, and a reminder that what we may consider "appropriate" options for women's lives are really historically specific and ultimately (thankfully) not set in stone.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Altman

    Like the author, I didn't know anything about Marjorie Hillis and her books about being a single woman so I was happy to learn about them. The rest of the book puts the books within the cultural landscape of the 1920s to the 1960's, to the death of Hillis. The author wades into some deep territory while trying to cover ALL of the cultural and economic changes to women's lives over that period, and at times she loses me because there are just too many people and topics for the book to really hand Like the author, I didn't know anything about Marjorie Hillis and her books about being a single woman so I was happy to learn about them. The rest of the book puts the books within the cultural landscape of the 1920s to the 1960's, to the death of Hillis. The author wades into some deep territory while trying to cover ALL of the cultural and economic changes to women's lives over that period, and at times she loses me because there are just too many people and topics for the book to really handle. Otherwise it's very good

  4. 5 out of 5

    Forest Collins

    Inspirational read not just for "living alone and liking it" but for living the way you want and appreciating and taking charge of your life. Don't be confused by the first line of my review, which makes it sounds like a self-help book. It's not. It's a story about the life (and approach to life) of live-aloner, wife and widow Marjorie Hills, a chic & independent author in the 30s. I wouldn't have learned about Marjorie Hillis had it not been for this book, and now I'd like to go back and read * Inspirational read not just for "living alone and liking it" but for living the way you want and appreciating and taking charge of your life. Don't be confused by the first line of my review, which makes it sounds like a self-help book. It's not. It's a story about the life (and approach to life) of live-aloner, wife and widow Marjorie Hills, a chic & independent author in the 30s. I wouldn't have learned about Marjorie Hillis had it not been for this book, and now I'd like to go back and read *her* books as well. Fun, interesting and feel good.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I found this book after reading this essay: https://timeline.com/meet-the-origina.... The idea of a woman who embraced single life long before the modern age of Sex and the City sounded exciting. Marjorie Hillis was definitely a role model: she was intelligent, educated, self-possessed, and kind; and she also found a way to live according to her own design and not bring on the ire of a society that treated unmarried women as "extra." She worked for most of her adult life, and provided a model for I found this book after reading this essay: https://timeline.com/meet-the-origina.... The idea of a woman who embraced single life long before the modern age of Sex and the City sounded exciting. Marjorie Hillis was definitely a role model: she was intelligent, educated, self-possessed, and kind; and she also found a way to live according to her own design and not bring on the ire of a society that treated unmarried women as "extra." She worked for most of her adult life, and provided a model for others to do the same. And when she did get married, she didn't twist herself into knots explaining herself, she just did it and went on with her life. As a widow, she returned to her "Live Aloner" status and continued to embrace it. It's this self-determination that I find so refreshing in her manner. But this book doesn't just cover Marjorie Hillis--it's wonderful in providing an amazing context for Hillis' success as a writer, including sections on other popular cultural touchstones that integrated with Hillis' ideas. This includes "success literature" like Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, domestic instruction manuals like Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking and Dorothy Draper's Decorating Is Fun, and novels that changed perceptions, such as Kitty Foyle, not to mention earthmoving tomes like Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. Knowing the status of women, working women, and the changing perceptions of what women could be and do throughout the 20th century, makes a real difference in seeing what Hillis was saying about how to conduct yourself as a Live Aloner. Also, if you're not the type of person who normally reads the Introduction to a book, I highly recommend you make an exception in this case. Joanna Scutt wraps this gem of a book between and introduction and epilogue that, while highly personal, connect the spirit of Marjorie Hillis' work to the present day in a poignant way that shouldn't be skipped.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nitzan

    This was so fascinating, not just for what it reveals about the complicated evolution of gender roles in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, but also because of the way it transports the reader to the early days of the New Yorker, Vogue, and historical New York City. If you're one to go down rabbit holes, this book will have you googling at every turn.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Valery

    DNF (50%) - it was ok, and for a period of time I convinced myself that some of the info presented was interesting, but after a while it just seemed like the same thing over and over so I just couldn't stick it out. It might be better if this is a subject you're passionate about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    "Both Lucy Stoners and Live-aloners recognized that true independence for. women did not simply mean rejecting family ties. It meant standing up for the life you wanted to lead, even if society said you were greedy that you wanted too much." The Lucy Stone League was a group of women who fought for the right to keep their last names after marriage. Never heard of them before this book. Marjorie Hillis Roulston was a writer and editor at Vogue. She wrote an inocuous guide for women living alone. "Both Lucy Stoners and Live-aloners recognized that true independence for. women did not simply mean rejecting family ties. It meant standing up for the life you wanted to lead, even if society said you were greedy that you wanted too much." The Lucy Stone League was a group of women who fought for the right to keep their last names after marriage. Never heard of them before this book. Marjorie Hillis Roulston was a writer and editor at Vogue. She wrote an inocuous guide for women living alone. What made this notable was the timing, the 30's, and her practical approach that holds up well 80 years later. Hillis was a "career girl" before the term was coined. She created the clunky term "live-aloner" to describe herself and other women, mostly educated city dwellers, who were unmarried, worked and lived happy and contented lives. Marriage wasn't the goal. She addressed the possibility that a woman might have to take care of herself into the future, a rather radical notion at the time. Ironically Hillis did marry, an event that made her critics gleefully vindictive. But even this was unconventional,as the author points out. She married after her prime childbearing years, was already financially secure and they mutually liked and respected each other. Since Hillis didn't live a particularly scintillating life there is a lot of background information about the history of women's status, in particular single women. From the women's suffrage movement to Betty Friedan, the image of single women fluctuated from dull spinsters to independent wage earners to suspicious husband stealers. Hillis didn't record changes in society but zeroed in on the individual. Her first book, Live Alone and Like It, was a great success and she followed with lifestyle guides and finished with a book for widows and divorcees. One surprise was learning that self-help books have been popular for a long time and how little of the advice has changed. I recommend reading the introduction and the afterward too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kilian Metcalf

    Marjorie Hillis is hardly a household name today, but in the 1930s everyone knew her as an editor at Vogue. Her private life was just that—private. Then in 1936 she wrote a best-selling book called Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. Not until Sex and the Single Girl was there such a sensation. Ms Hillis put forth the idea that the single life was something to be enjoyed, not endured. With tips on decorating and entertaining on a budget, she showed millions of American women how Marjorie Hillis is hardly a household name today, but in the 1930s everyone knew her as an editor at Vogue. Her private life was just that—private. Then in 1936 she wrote a best-selling book called Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. Not until Sex and the Single Girl was there such a sensation. Ms Hillis put forth the idea that the single life was something to be enjoyed, not endured. With tips on decorating and entertaining on a budget, she showed millions of American women how to make the most of the single life. Overnight the career woman entered popular culture, from books to movies. I believe a novel I read recently, Mrs Boxfish Takes a Walk was inspired in part by Marjorie Hillis, showing that her influence lives on well past her death. If she was anything like her fictional counterpart, it is easy to see why she was such a wonderful role model. Enjoying life as a single woman takes stamina and courage. In an age where everyone supposes you are on the hunt for a man, it takes something special to swim against the tide and declare yourself free. And then, of course, she married. Some people felt betrayed, but Hillis declared she had nothing against marriage. Her attitude was to enjoy life in whatever circumstance you find yourself, single, married or widowed. A fascinating look at life as a single woman in the 1930s. My blog: The Interstitial Reader https://theinterstitialreader.wordpre...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Soyoung

    Pg. 59-60 The people and theories behind early American marriage counseling overlap with eugenics movement, a popular and mainstream movement at the time for general social improvement. Pg. 70 Edna Chase, for her part, remember to Dorothy Parker as a “a small, dark-haired pixie, treacle-sweet of tongue, but vinegar-witted.” Pg. 79 Positive thinking was indebted to the teachings of new thoughts, a multifaceted spiritual movement that traced its origins back to a 19th-century Maine clockmaker with a gl Pg. 59-60 The people and theories behind early American marriage counseling overlap with eugenics movement, a popular and mainstream movement at the time for general social improvement. Pg. 70 Edna Chase, for her part, remember to Dorothy Parker as a “a small, dark-haired pixie, treacle-sweet of tongue, but vinegar-witted.” Pg. 79 Positive thinking was indebted to the teachings of new thoughts, a multifaceted spiritual movement that traced its origins back to a 19th-century Maine clockmaker with a gloriously hucksterish name of Phineas P Quimby. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian science, was his patient and student. New thought, as its name suggests, it was a broad and adaptable movement, able to incorporate ideas derived from Ralph Waldo Emerson and the transcendentalists, as well as various European and Asian mystical traditions. P.111 “Having never been treated as fully equal or respected members of the labor force, women did not attach the same level of self-worth or status anxiety to their jobs as men, and were therefore able to think more flexibly about the ways that the depression’s upheavals might be worked to their own, and the nation’s, advantage. Many of them never looked back.” P. 134 The working girl must eat By Hazel Young of General Foods P. 149 Cocktails were to sweeten the bite of bootleg booze. Originally in the 20s. P. 163-164 “She called woman who worked outside the home “two job woman, “ for whom the variety if they were efficient could make both jobs more enjoyable. Then who insist on their wives staying home are portrayed in her books as old-fashioned fogies, who fail to appreciate the benefits of a wife’s job to both partners: “ our personal opinion is that the average wage earning woman is more interesting and keeps younger and handsomer then if she stayed home, whether she really likes working or not.” Her advice for women in the workforce who were there by necessity rather than choice was refreshingly straightforward: “ don’t worry too much.” Being in an office all day but only make Home feel more charming and the children would be fine.” P. 193 “ but no matter how elegant her gown, the Live-Aloner could not sweep into the dance floor without a partner. Single woman were unwelcome at the ritziest nightspots - the Stork Club, El Morocco and the Colony - as New York’s seen NBC night life was still an exclusive affair. Bouncers, often asked gangsters and semi reformed bootleggers, kept the genders strictly balanced and guarded the door against loan females in so called hen parties.” “ The prejudice against loan females in the public was enough of a problem that for a few years in the late 30s an agency known as a guide escort service operated to New York to unite wealthy extra woman with underemployed men. The rent-a-gent service was founded in 1035 by a young and imaginative midwestern transplant named Ted Peckman.” P. 249 Marital rape: “it wasn’t until the 1990s that it was made illegal nationwide.”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauryn

    While wandering the used stacks of books in the upstairs of Book Culture on 112th this past summer, I managed to find this incredible but under the radar book. It appears I have found my incredibly niche nonfiction niche: single women in the city (sometimes walking, sometimes not) and I couldn't be happier about it. As of late, I've found history and memoir to be the best kind of reading because it is my version of escapism--mostly because my brain doesn't recognize that humanity truly existed be While wandering the used stacks of books in the upstairs of Book Culture on 112th this past summer, I managed to find this incredible but under the radar book. It appears I have found my incredibly niche nonfiction niche: single women in the city (sometimes walking, sometimes not) and I couldn't be happier about it. As of late, I've found history and memoir to be the best kind of reading because it is my version of escapism--mostly because my brain doesn't recognize that humanity truly existed before 1920. Thus, Marjorie Hillis and her "Live-Aloner" motto during the height of flapper glory days could not have been more ideal for me. I learned so much, not only about Hillis, but also about the way women's role in society changed and evolved over time according to societal circumstances. Is this why people like history?? Perhaps I only like it when written by women. Regardless, I would like to get my paws on a copy of Hillis' book to add to my growing collection of women choosing a life of solitude.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zinny

    This is a fabulous book! It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was incredibly well researched and organized. I thought it would just talk about Marjorie Hillis but the author often drew back to examine the culture of the day and reference historical events. Her perspective and analysis was refreshing because instead of repeating the same tired white male history of the period she synthesizes a clear picture of the day that takes into account other races, gender, age, class, and sexuality. It wa This is a fabulous book! It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was incredibly well researched and organized. I thought it would just talk about Marjorie Hillis but the author often drew back to examine the culture of the day and reference historical events. Her perspective and analysis was refreshing because instead of repeating the same tired white male history of the period she synthesizes a clear picture of the day that takes into account other races, gender, age, class, and sexuality. It was eye-opening to see how different society was just a generation or two ago and learn about many under appreciated cultural figures and influencers. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in feminism, civil rights, or history (especially the history of “career women” and independent women).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nann

    An interesting historical study about single women in 20th-century America with an account of self-help books as well. Marjorie Hillis, an editor at Vogue, wrote several bestsellers starting with "Live Alone and Like It" and "Orchids on Your Budget." (I am sure I have weeded both from library collections.) The ARC that I read (from the 2017 ALA Annual Conference) did not have any photos or illustrations. Those would have enlivened the text, which appears to be a scholarly study reworked slightly An interesting historical study about single women in 20th-century America with an account of self-help books as well. Marjorie Hillis, an editor at Vogue, wrote several bestsellers starting with "Live Alone and Like It" and "Orchids on Your Budget." (I am sure I have weeded both from library collections.) The ARC that I read (from the 2017 ALA Annual Conference) did not have any photos or illustrations. Those would have enlivened the text, which appears to be a scholarly study reworked slightly for general audiences. (I'm still curious about Hillis' education, or lack thereof. She went to a prep school but not to college. Her father was pastor of a large church in Brooklyn and it seems to me that higher education would have been encouraged.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    "it is easy for many people, even me, to forget that marriage is always political, a rite of citizenship that is offered or withheld by the state. Because it’s easy to forget that exercising the right to live your life as you choose is still a political act, and a brave act—far braver for some people than for others, of course. Because there are still many, many powerful people who are afraid to allow women happiness, independence, pleasure, and the right to be alone—all the rights that Marjorie "it is easy for many people, even me, to forget that marriage is always political, a rite of citizenship that is offered or withheld by the state. Because it’s easy to forget that exercising the right to live your life as you choose is still a political act, and a brave act—far braver for some people than for others, of course. Because there are still many, many powerful people who are afraid to allow women happiness, independence, pleasure, and the right to be alone—all the rights that Marjorie Hillis claimed for her Live-Aloner, without thinking of them as such. So while we can admire her devotion to a well-cut dress, well-ordered home, and perfectly mixed Manhattan, we should remember that it isn’t easy for any of us to create a life we really like, and harder still to do it in style."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caro

    Years ago my sisters and I were at the Book Barn (back in the days when they had a mixture of everything, before it became an antiquarian store) when I stumbled on Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis. We all thought it was hilarious, though sprinkled with plenty of practical advice (and I still own it). I picked up The Extra Woman expecting a biography of Hillis, but this is more of a social history of twentieth century women, with biographical details about Hillis sprinkled throughout. In Years ago my sisters and I were at the Book Barn (back in the days when they had a mixture of everything, before it became an antiquarian store) when I stumbled on Orchids on Your Budget by Marjorie Hillis. We all thought it was hilarious, though sprinkled with plenty of practical advice (and I still own it). I picked up The Extra Woman expecting a biography of Hillis, but this is more of a social history of twentieth century women, with biographical details about Hillis sprinkled throughout. Interesting enough, but not what I was looking for.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    More than just the fascinating story of Marjorie Hillis, The Extra Woman explores the cultural moment that allowed her to flourish and the movement that her books helped shape. Helen Gurley Brown is often cited as the original “single girl,” but I was fascinated by the generation of women that came before her, the daughters of suffragettes who paved the way for women to explores new paths in careers and family structure. This is a well-researched and engagingly written book, a great choice for a More than just the fascinating story of Marjorie Hillis, The Extra Woman explores the cultural moment that allowed her to flourish and the movement that her books helped shape. Helen Gurley Brown is often cited as the original “single girl,” but I was fascinated by the generation of women that came before her, the daughters of suffragettes who paved the way for women to explores new paths in careers and family structure. This is a well-researched and engagingly written book, a great choice for anyone interested in women’s history. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    An unexpected delight of a book - quite a surprise. At first it seemed like it would be too much to write (and read) one book about another slim self-help book, but Marjorie Hillis in fact wrote several related books at different stages of her life, not to mention narrative poetry. Using the oeuvre of Marjorie Hillis, the author has written a very readable biography of a remarkable woman and also explained the role of books in changing society's view of single women. A great job tying lots of th An unexpected delight of a book - quite a surprise. At first it seemed like it would be too much to write (and read) one book about another slim self-help book, but Marjorie Hillis in fact wrote several related books at different stages of her life, not to mention narrative poetry. Using the oeuvre of Marjorie Hillis, the author has written a very readable biography of a remarkable woman and also explained the role of books in changing society's view of single women. A great job tying lots of things together. As a Live-Aloner myself, I loved it. A minor comment - The title uses "The Extra Woman" which was part of Marjorie's book title, but it's not really a term that resonates today.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Dowd

    "The Extra Woman" was an excellent look at a post-Suffrage writer and feminist, Marjorie Hillis Roulston. She turned the single-girl world upside down in the mid-1930s and brought a little bit of respect and self-respect to the singletons of the world. I had never heard of her in all my women's studies texts I've read over the years and I found her fascinating. The books is a quick read and spans Hillis Roulston's life, influence, and how that translated into changes in attitudes throughout the "The Extra Woman" was an excellent look at a post-Suffrage writer and feminist, Marjorie Hillis Roulston. She turned the single-girl world upside down in the mid-1930s and brought a little bit of respect and self-respect to the singletons of the world. I had never heard of her in all my women's studies texts I've read over the years and I found her fascinating. The books is a quick read and spans Hillis Roulston's life, influence, and how that translated into changes in attitudes throughout the following decades. If you are lucky enough to be able to snag a copy of the original "Live Alone and Like It", it is well worth the read and will amuse you to no end.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    Such a fascinating, unexpectedly touching, brilliantly-written book. Scutts is gifted at bringing to life the character and personality of her subject, and making her readers care, and care deeply, about her life. I had intended to quickly skim for basic facts, but Scutts' compelling writing kept sucking me in and I ended up savoring every word. Even sections that might have been dry or skim-worthy in the hands of another writer kept me riveted to the page. Such a fantastic, fascinating read! Hi Such a fascinating, unexpectedly touching, brilliantly-written book. Scutts is gifted at bringing to life the character and personality of her subject, and making her readers care, and care deeply, about her life. I had intended to quickly skim for basic facts, but Scutts' compelling writing kept sucking me in and I ended up savoring every word. Even sections that might have been dry or skim-worthy in the hands of another writer kept me riveted to the page. Such a fantastic, fascinating read! Highly recommended! (And I'll be looking for anything Scutts writes in future, whether books or journalism. She's brilliant.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I stumbled upon this book by chance. I was researching another book when this one popped up as another similar title I might like. I didn't really know what to expect, but the title mentioning women living alone was intriguing, as I love reading about the history of "subversive" independently minded women. This book manages to pack in a lot of sociological insights regarding the live-alone women during the 1920s through the 1960s, but with the major focus being the 1930s and 1940s. I hadn't heard I stumbled upon this book by chance. I was researching another book when this one popped up as another similar title I might like. I didn't really know what to expect, but the title mentioning women living alone was intriguing, as I love reading about the history of "subversive" independently minded women. This book manages to pack in a lot of sociological insights regarding the live-alone women during the 1920s through the 1960s, but with the major focus being the 1930s and 1940s. I hadn't heard about Marjorie Hillis before reading this well-written account of a fascinating period in American history, but plan on learning more about her, as well as looking forward to reading more by Joanna Scutts. 3.5

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    *I give this 3.5 stars* This was a really interesting look at a slice of American history I was unfamiliar with. I appreciated that the author was clear that this was looking at a very particular writer writing for a very particular audience, who left out large swaths of womanhood including POC and the poor. Now I'm interested in knowing more about those groups at this same time. The writing style was a little more academic than I was expecting, but it didn't feel like a textbook.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maike

    I read the delightful Live Alone and Like It upon its mention in this title, and then dove into this book. It is a wonderful overview of women’s lives from the 1920s to the 1960s, and how shifts in the economy impacted the perception of women in America. Marjorie Hillis’ life offers the thread, but the book is full of other historic females who influenced their time. Definitely a must-read fro amateur historians and those seeking to learn more about women’s lifestyles through the decades.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Thomas

    Interesting biography of a foreward thinking woman, Marjorie Hillis which included sociological observations from the 40s - today. The research/detail that Ms. Scutts included was excellent, and very interesting. So interesting, that I am going to purchase 'Live Alone and Like It', and was able to add a few other books to my reading wish list.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Fascinating account of Majorie Hills, a Vogue editor, who relished the lifestyle of being a single woman in the late '30s. She ultimately married an older wealthy man, and some said she betrayed her sisterhood. When he died, she returned to her independent lifestyle. This is a glimpse into expectations of women before the domesticity restrictions of the 50s.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    A fascinating read on ladies living single. I did find it a little odd that while it at least addressed the impact of race on it's subject matter, it didn't really talk about gay Live-Aloners. Since it's likely that a lot of lady bachelors in the 30s and later were lesbians, this seemed like a rather glaring hole in an otherwise relatively complete work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I went into this expecting a light, breezy biography of a rich heiress in the early 20th century, and it was partially that. But this was actually a really interesting look at mid-century American society, and the role women (extra or otherwise) played in it. It does mostly look at white and heterosexual women, and the author does acknowledge this as a fault.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annie B.

    I think the title of this book is a tad misleading. It's so much more than the story of Marjorie Hillis - really a social history of the time from about the 30s thru the 60s. A good read. It does kind of go off on tangents, but that's what keeps it interesting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Not everyone will be into reading a non-fiction, history book about early feminist writers but as it turns out I was/am. I had to stop and google/look up the other names mentioned in the book and feel more knowledgeable as a result of reading this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Enjoyed reading about this clever woman whom I did not know about. This book made me want to read Hillis' books. There were long sections I skimmed through, though, when the author went on about aspects of social history in general rather than about Hillis.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Culley

    This book is terrible. I am sticking with it to find out what happened to Marjorie Hillis, but for crying out loud the author is not familiar with the basics of American history. This wouldn’t be remarkable, but she shovels in huge whacks of history on every page.

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