Edna St. Vincent Millay: crazy, independent, flamboyant, slut, alcoholic and drug addict. All those things accurately describe Vincent, as Edna was called by her friends, but yet they don’t say enough. Vincent was the Madonna of the roaring 20s, daring to live her life as she saw fit; breaking all of society’s rigid and firmly held rules. She was openly bi-sexual, dared to smoke in public (when it was against the law for women) wrote about it all in her poetry and then had the gall to publish it for everyone to know. Despite her Babylonish ways, Vincent was very popular and gave readings of her work to standing room only crowds. In the midst of The Great Depression, Vincent’s works sold by the thousands; despite the fact that almost everyone had to scrap by to get the necessities of life.
Hiding behind this mask of acceptance and confidence was another woman, however, someone insecure and pathetic. So pathetic that morphine and gin would become as necessary as breathing; leading to a tragic spiral that would end in her death.
Nancy Milford became famous for her first book, Zelda, which told the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife. This book won Milford prestige and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, securing her place in the literary world. Milford’s storytelling ability has not diminished with time. Savage Beauty flows smoothly; explaining, showing. Slowly pulling away the layers of Vincent until she lies naked on the pages, exposed to be scrutinized and analyzed like she was so many years before. Well written, easy to read, fantastic subject; all this makes for a good book and good reading.