I’m not a big TV person. I generally prefer books to screens, but I’m obsessed with the Amazon original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I’ve binge-watched the entire series several times, and somehow love it more each time. Mrs. Midge Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan) has the perfect life: a loving husband, two kids, and a gorgeous apartment on New York’s Upper West Side. But her life suddenly starts to fall apart, and she discovers a hidden talent—stand-up comedy. Set in the 1950s, this show is whip-smart, funny, feminist, and absolutely charming. With season two streaming on Amazon this month, I started thinking about books to read if you love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as much as I do. Here’s what I came up with.
Much like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, CAREERS FOR WOMEN is set in New York City in the 1950s. And like Midge, Maggie Gleason is seeking a new way of life. She befriends a woman named Pauline—new to the city and with a secret past—and neither of their lives will ever be the same. This is a smart, spectacular novel about the difficulties of building a career and a home, and the powerful nature of friendship and compassion.
If the comedy routines are your favorite part of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you’ll love Nick Hornby’s novel FUNNY GIRL. Set in 1960s London, it’s a lively account of the adventures of an intrepid young woman as she transforms herself from provincial ingenue to television starlet. This delightful novel packs a lot of laughs.
Set in 1960s London, FUNNY GIRL is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters.
A group of former housewives hell-bent on breaking all the rules? Yes, please! Kate Walbert’s novel in stories follows several women who came into the quick rush of adulthood, marriage, and childbearing in the 1950s. (Remind you of anyone? Perhaps Midge and her friends?) Now divorced and independent, these women take charge and get into all sorts of trouble—from protesting the slaughter of the country club’s geese to dialing former flames in the middle of the night.
Kate Walbert masterfully conveys the dreams and reality of a group of women who were once country-club housewives, and are now divorced, independent, and breaking the rules. This brilliant, thought-provoking novel opens a window into the world of a generation of women caught in a cultural limbo.
One of my favorite scenes in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the night Joel walks out and Midge goes down to the Gaslight, a little drunk and disheveled, to perform her first stand-up routine. While it’s a fun episode to watch, it’s a very bad day for Midge. Eleanor Flood, the protagonist of TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT, is also a bit of a mess and having a very bad day after realizing her husband is keeping big secrets.
THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE is a gossipy, completely addictive novel about New York’s 1950s elite—known as “Swans”—and the scandalous friendship between socialite Babe Paley and literary legend Truman Capote. Rich in the glamour of the era, this story will draw you into the world of beautiful people who live life without consequence—until they’re betrayed, that is. This one is for anyone obsessed with the Maisels’ affluent lifestyle.
A gossipy, completely addictive novel about New York’s 1950s elite—known as “Swans”—and the scandalous friendship between socialite Babe Paley and literary legend Truman Capote. Rich in the glamour of the era and with characters pulled from reality, this story will draw you into the scandal of the beautiful, preening birds living life without consequence—until they’re betrayed, that is.
At first glance, Midge appears to be a “nice Jewish girl.” The same applies to Dottie Krasinsky, the protagonist of MODERN GIRLS. But after a single, careless night, Dottie finds herself in a sticky situation: pregnant by a charismatic but unsuitable man and running out of options. When Dottie’s mother, Rose, also gets pregnant, mother and daughter must wrestle with unthinkable choices.