Chapman has always been fascinated by her family history, particularly her paternal grandparents' complicated relationships with Amelia Earhart, so she was deeply moved when her grandmother, Dorothy Binney Putnam, gave her 10 diaries chronicling the years 1907 through 1961. During those exciting and emotionally exhausting decades, Dorothy--an accomplished musician, a society figure, an outdoorswoman and traveler, and an "incurable romantic" --graduated from Wellesley, married George Putnam of the distinguished publishing dynasty, had children, befriended Earhart at the dawn of her fame, and then watched the aviatrix not only attain near-goddess status but also steal her husband. Dorothy's side of this once-notorious love triangle has never been well understood, and Chapman's amazement over what she discovered in her grandmother's succinct but revealing diary entries adds great poignancy to a love story that would be compelling even if it were written as blandly as a shopping list. Putnam was a total workaholic, and long before Earhart entered the picture, Dorothy's frustration over the vapidity of her high-society duties and the bloodlessness of her marriage had led to an ardent affair with a younger man and thoughts of divorce. Chapman's sensitive and proud portrait of her passionate grandmother offers fresh takes on Earhart, Putnam, and the eternal mystery of love. Donna Seaman
From Kirkus Reviews
The biography of a bright, talented, adventurous, athletic, financially solvent woman who married a bright, talented, adventurous, etc., man, but whose life never seemed to live up to those promises. What's untold about this story is that Dorothy Binney Putnam was having an affair with a man 20 years younger some time before her publisher husband, George, met, published, and married Amelia Earhart. That takes Dorothy off the hook as an abandoned woman, but fails to answer the question: Does it matter to anyone except her relatives? Chapman is the granddaughter of Dorothy Putnam and the heir to Dorothy's diaries. Excerpts from the diaries set the stage for chapters in her life, from the early 1900s, when Dorothy was a teenager, to 1982, when she died, after surviving four husbands. (Her young lover, George Weymouth, was not one of the husbands.) Dorothy Putnam's home base both as daughter (to the inventor of Crayola crayons) and wife to Putnam was Sound Beach, Conn., where she built a memorable home, served as remarkable hostess, entertaining her husband's authors, and nurtured her children. She sailed with explorer William Beebe but was never able to exploit her adventurous spirit or her other talents--singer and pianist, plus she could whistle like a bird- -to achieve on her own. When she finally left Putnam to Earhart, she remarried within a month after her divorce was final and settled in Florida. This husband beat her, the next fled west to Hawaii, and the last--and ``best''--died after only four years of marriage. The diary entries that are the basis for this book are brief, almost brusque, and do not display what was apparently Dorothy's considerable charm. What's here finally is no more than a granddaughter's tribute to a woman who was the ex-wife of the man who married Amelia Earhart. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.