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The Sewing Circle: Hollywood's Greatest Secret - Female Stars Who Loved Other Women

3.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  192 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Documents the double life of "The Sewing Circle," a group of lesbians and bisexuals that included such famous figures as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy and Agnes Moorehead. By the author of Stanwyck.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 20th 1996 by Citadel Press (first published 1995)
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Jun 01, 2007 R.J. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why people cite **this** book as THE one that outs Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Crawford, Kate Hepburn and a host of other Hollywood actresses as lesbians or bisexual. The reporting is flimsy, without foundation (no actual observations by anyone just speculation based on what? Okay Stanwyck shared a hotel room with her female manager once when a hotel was full. . yeah okay THAT makes her gay). The chapters on Stanwyck and Garland are filled with fluff about other stuff. I'm not a ...more
While I love the glamor, privilege, and intrigue of old Hollywood, this book didn't quite do it for me. I understand that, due to the nature of these relationships, there wouldn't be a huge record, but there has to be more evidence than what Madsen provided. Where are the sources? I thought a book like this would be chock-full of research on interviews (even if they were told second-hand), correspondence, and interesting footers, but there was none of that. And if there weren't any sources, addr ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Graceann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: books-i-hated
Terrible book - apparently it's entertaining to label actresses as lesbians (not that being gay is a bad thing, but come on) based on ridiculously flimsy evidence and innuendo. Stupid waste of time and paper.
Mar 26, 2014 Rama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Sapphic liaison: Women who loved women during 20s/30s Hollywood.

This is a highly readable book, and the author has way with words when she describes feminists of 1920s Hollywood who were redefining sexuality and relationships. This work is based on earlier publications about Hollywood lesbians, and many paragraphs and sentences look awfully similar to “The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood” by Diana McLellan, which was published in 2013. It appears that this book may have been a source for ma
May 06, 2013 Lindsay rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: own
I'm officially proclaiming this one unreadable and moving on. Got to page 154 of 216. I love a good name drop as much as the next pretentious twit, but this book dispenses with all else, including paragraph transitions and grammatically sensical sentence construction.
May 28, 2016 Margret rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought because it was in clearance and what a mistake. This is an awful book, it's only a gossip column. This book like to trash Hollywood stars who are dead and can't defends themselves. A waste of my time and I didn't want to finish it. Terrible.
May 26, 2012 Jj rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jj by: Lois
I liked the idea, but the editing was terrible ("Greta" was spelled "Great" as the first word of chapter 3) and the writing style sounded like a gossip column. Too much name-dropping, unsupported allegations, and slang. I didn't finish it.
Aug 26, 2008 Evelina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like if there had been celebrity gossip blogs in the 1930s and 1940s.
Jun 04, 2016 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book sale book... reviews don't look promising...

Not as bad for me as some Goodread’s reviews thought. I feel the book was a bit of mish mosh…she did repeat herself in chapters. There was a good deal about Hollywood and movies..which I did enjoy. But somehow I expected the book would have been about how women covered up their liaisons. It was interesting, but I think all this information is in some ways hinted at in other books on Hollywood. I didn’t find this offensive to any of the women prese
Aug 26, 2013 Shari rated it really liked it
For many reasons, different from what you might suspect, I found this a very interesting book. I enjoyed the workings of Studio Hollywood, the backstage, technical, productive end of getting a picture together, the sorts of things that producers thought would or wouldn't work and the names, big literary names, who wrote the screenplays or adapted other works for the screen.

The chapters that dealt with the HUAC inquisition of Hollywood 'leftists' during the Cold War years after WWII was intriguin
May 23, 2016 HeavyReader rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: movie buffs, fans of lesbians and lesbian movie stars
Shelves: queer, movies
This is a breezy, gossipy, easy-to-read history of lesbians on the silver screen, from the silent movie era to the beginning of the 1960s. It's a must-read for folks interested in queer, lesbian, and film history.

I didn't think it was a great book, but it did its job of telling the history of sapphic Tinseltown just fine.
Jan 21, 2015 Hawthorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish a big more of this were completely confirmed, but it's not surprising. Of course this stuff was going on.
Douglas Gibson
Fun for its gossip value, and some great quotes, but poorly written and all over the place. I was disappointing.
Mar 01, 2015 Quirkyreader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect companion book to The Celluloid Closet".
Harry Casey
pretty trashy expose of Hollywood lesbians. Not sure what to believe.
Marjorie Lecker
great view into the secret lesbian world in early Hollywood
bit overmuch with facts
Laura Naysmith
Not a fan of this book at all, the subject matter isn't the problem I'm not bothered that it might all be tittle tattle but it's just badly written and I'm saying this as a person who struggles with punctuation, grammar and the like. It's a very disjointed book, the author will start writing something and then just jump to something else it's very confusing. A much better book on the same subject is ' The girls : Sappho goes to Hollywood by Diana McLellan
Oct 12, 2009 Joshua rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Kind of a sleazy book about lesbian and bisexual actresses in Hollywood from the 1920s into the 1950s. Madsen takes a faux academic style and stance which only adds to the lurid bits. All the usual suspects are written about here: Garbo, Deitrich, Stanwyck, Hepburn, Bankhead etc etc.
Apr 11, 2008 Ecaterina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To anyone that is interested in Hollywood and Lesbians.
This is a wonderful book. Is amazing, how popular lesbianism was in the past; most of the silent film actresses, where eager to have, some–sort of sexual contact with other woman. A true book about Hollywood's history.
Oct 28, 2008 Chelsea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies
interesting gossip-y read. not too sure how reliable all the information is, probably some true, some not, some exaggerated, but kind of a fun book to read
Jul 07, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So disappointing...Golden Age film actresses and the women they loved. How can you make this boring? Axel found a way...too bad. So promising.
May 28, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
Totally trashy and totally fun, not to be taken seriously at all. I have never seen so many typos in one book.
Jean Marie Angelo
Not great writing, but the subject matter, well...., I love Hollywood glam and secrets of yesteryear.
This has to be taken with a grain of salt. Some of this is just plain nonsense.
Jun 25, 2011 Marla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this book. The writing was dull and disjointed.
Aug 09, 2008 lmc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great book - covers subjects thoroughly.
Apr 09, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dishy read about stars who also loved women.
Nancy L.
Slender proof, but still readable.
Mills College Library
791.43028 M1836 1995
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