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Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men, and Hope
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Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men, and Hope

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  51 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
May Yohe was a popular entertainer from humble American origins who married and then abandoned a wealthy English Lord who owned the fabled Hope diamond--one of the most valuable objects in the world and now exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. May was a romantic who had numerous lovers and at least three husbands--though the tabloids rumored twelve. ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Smithsonian Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Dec 22, 2012 Orsolya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, history
Let’s admit something: most of us are fascinated by the train-wreck, tabloid-filled lives of celebrities. However, before there was Lindsay Lohan, or Kim Kardashian, or even Elizabeth Taylor; there was “Madcap” May Yohe. One can, without a doubt, assume that Yohe would be gracing the pages of People or Us if she was alive today. Richard Kurin portrays this almost- illusive figure in “Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men, and Hope”.

Kurin opens “Madcap May” with an accessible yet intellectual prose
Jessica T.
Nov 15, 2014 Jessica T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not the best biography I have ever read but the author seemed to cherish his subject. I got the feeling he was trying to save her from obscurity. I hope that someone picks up where he left off.
Bobby  Title
Feb 05, 2016 Bobby Title rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my kind of book from beginning to end, from the preface to the epilogue and spilling over into the timeline, the acknowledgements, the notes, the illustration credits, through to the Index. In my non-professional, non-Ph.D. way, as an ordinary genealogist I have often wished that I had been able to research like Dr. Kurin has done - finding a little piece of something that has caught my eye and been able to bring it to the light in the way he has.

I learned SO much from his story. I had
Holly McIntyre
Oct 29, 2012 Holly McIntyre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be the best biography I've ever read of someone I've never heard of! May Yohe, star of stage and vaudeville from the 1880s to the 1920s puts quite a different twist on the "Victorian era!" Globe-trotting by steamship and ever open to the blandishments of a new lover, May was quite the free-spirit. That she was once married to the owner of the Hope diamond (which she claims to have worn but likely never did) just adds extra sparkle to the story. Anyone interested in the rich and(or) famo ...more
Mark Bondurant
The story of May Johe, a forgotten genuine free spirit of the 1890's. Victorian enthusiasts will want to read this, but for the information, not the pleasure. It's not exactly the best read. The author tried to tie her life in with the hope diamond, with limited success, and the Hope fortune, again with limited success. It was clearly padding. I think the problem was the lack of information about May herself. I could wish, for instance, for more information about her years as a war nurse. There ...more
Feb 20, 2015 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it took me a while to get around to reading it (I had borrowed my mom's copy for, um, the past year), it was a fast and interesting read once I began. It was inevitable, of course, that I read it (I live in Bethlehem and lead ghost tours and May gets mentioned thoroughly) but I was pleased to find that it was a solid read that I really enjoyed. She had one heck of a life and it had the feel of a Great American Novel in some ways - despite being factual. The Fall of the Promising Child, etc ...more
Apr 10, 2013 Sasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One other reviewer already said it. This is the best biography I've read about someone I've never heard of. This was a pretty quick read and thoroughly enjoyable. May really was madcap and lived an interesting, often scandalous, life. I think this book did a good job of bringing May back to life. How funny that someone like this could be forgotten.
False Millennium
Of mild historical interest. The authors chief interest came from the Hope Diamond and it's place in history and the Smithsonian Institution. May was a mildly talented climber. I will say this, as her life continued into a downward spiral, early enough on in her career, she did keep striving, up until the end, but what a messy existence she chose.
Feb 19, 2013 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!! It provided a great escape from 2013; the pictures are awesome; and it's written by a Smithsonian historian!!! What more could you ask for?! The only reason I gave it 4 stars is because the end is not as good as the beginning...but maybe that's just a function of the life of Mary August Yohe!!
Wilmina Davis
Sep 22, 2012 Wilmina Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I loved this biography of May Yohe, a 19th century actress with a larger than life personality, and a "you-can't-make-up-this-stuff" life story. I had not heard of her before but after reading this book, I wish I could have a cup of tea and a good long visit with Madcap May. An excellent read.
This author seems to have relied heavily on the research he'd already done for his book on the Hope Diamond, possibly to the detriment of May's story. The narrative had rough patches, and it felt like some parts of her story were glossed over, but overall I enjoyed it.
The book was very interesting and I was shocked to read that this woman did not care at the time what society thought about her and her life. It was a fast read and I would recommend it to anybody who likes to learn about history.
Aug 14, 2013 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about someone I never heard of. I was staying at the Hotel Bethlehem and was in the gift shop browsing when I saw this book. It intrigued me do I bought it. Very interesting book and lady. I enjoyed reading about her.
Karen Andre
Interesting 'era' book. Well written. Lots of interesting information about the Hope Diamond, which the author has also written about.
Sep 30, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just beginning this book for Epworth Book club and so far it is filled with many facts and figures. Much history and certainly May Yohe led a fantastic life.
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