Today, we review Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Almost Famous Women. This collection delves into the emotional lives of historical women who lived close to fame. Arielle Yarwood writes: “The latitude Bergman gives herself to abandon pure accuracy and pursue an emotional, character-based story creates a collection that may not be entirely factual, but feels entirely true.” We absolutely loved these stories.
Megan Mayhew Bergman, known for Birds of a Lesser Paradise, her first book of short stories, has written a new collection that was published by Scribner this month. Almost Famous Women tells the fictionalized stories of historical women on the fringes of fame. Bergman writes their lives into a larger existence than the footnotes to which they have been relegated.
The women whose lives are included in this collection range from a Standard Oil heiress who ruled over her own island, to the conjoined Hilton twins who—for a short time—made it big in show business, to Dolly Wilde, the ambulance-driving niece of Oscar Wilde. Some stories are more fictionalized than others: in “The Lottery, Redux,” Bergman writes a matriarchal cover story for Shirley Jackson’s famous piece. Still other stories feel as though Bergman was right there alongside her characters, a treasured confidant chronicling these women’s lives.