Today I’m dishing about this really fascinating book about an author that I adored when I was a kid: Louise Fitzhugh. I loved Harriet the Spy, which I read in fifth grade. I remember finding it on a bookshelf at my sister’s house one summer. I wanted Harriet as my friend. My own friend and I started carrying notebooks around that summer so that we could take notes on people. We spent time “spying” and communicating our opinions on the adults in our world, often by leaving messages for each other in a small hole in the ground between our houses.
Needless to say, I was interested to join this tour and to find out about this author.
First, let me say that Louise Fitzhugh had a life quite different that I had imagined. She was progressive, unique, and totally her own person. She came from great wealth. However, her story left me a feeling sad. (No spoilers, I promise). By understanding Louise’s childhood and life, you can see how Harriet emerged.
This book is technically a biography and non-fiction, but it reads very easily. It is not dense or hard to get through. You will not use it as a doorstop (as I look fondly on my biographical tome of Ben Franklin).
Thank you so much for making me part of the tour and for my e-copy!
Here’s the scoop from Over the River PR:
Harriet the Spy, first published in 1964, has mesmerized generations of readers and launched a million diarists. Its beloved antiheroine, Harriet, is erratic, unsentimental, and endearing—very much like the woman who created her, Louise Fitzhugh. In SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE, Brody shares the lively story of the beloved children’s book author who was a progressive, anti-racist, transgressive, smoking and drinking lesbian who believed in the radical power of art.
Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was raised in segregated Memphis, a rebellious daughter of Southern socialites who fled to New York at the first opportunity. There, she discovered the lesbian bars of Greenwich Village and the art world of postwar Europe; her circle of friends included members of the avant-garde like Maurice Sendak and Lorraine Hansberry. Above all else, Fitzhugh valued creativity and honesty. Her novels, written in an era of political defiance, are full of resistance: to liars, to authority, to conformity, and even—radically, for a children’s author—to make-believe. Fitzhugh herself lived her life as a dissenter—a friend to underdogs, outsiders, and artists—and her masterpiece remains long after her death to influence and provoke new generations of readers. As a children’s author and a lesbian, Fitzhugh was often pressured to disguise her true nature. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE tells the story of her hidden life and of the creation of her masterpiece, which remains long after her death as a testament to the complicated relationship between truth and secrecy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Brody is a creative writing professor and well-regarded biographer. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Irrepressible (Counterpoint Press, 2010)—her biography of Jessica Mitford—saying, “Brody has made the world a better place by telling her saga so skillfully.” And Maya Angelou stated, “Leslie Brody reintroduced me to a friend I loved so dearly; told me stories about events I did not participate in, and it makes me jealous. Thank you for the book.” Since 1998, she has taught Creative Nonfiction in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Redlands.