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Reluctant Angels - Guy C. Taylor Summary
To The Reader The Reluctant Angels are seen from the eyes of a midwestern girl with traditional religious upbringing. Parts of Kansas City seemed risqu to Mary Jane Caruthers. But nothing could prepare her for the bacchanal atmosphere of Hollywood, where the film industry was being called on to clean up its violence and sex, and the daily papers reported corruption and cruelty in the L.A. police department. But Mary Jane refuses to look back at that time in Kansas City; that time when ragtime, jazz, and speakeasies were the status quo . . . when the Pendergast political machine was in control. Yet Mary Jane knew what she wanted from life. . . to be a fashion designer and to raise a healthy family. Her parents forced her to marry a young man with whom she had had an affair; and there were soon two children. Then suddenly her world became unbearable as her husband met with a violent and scandalous death. Her story quickly moves to Los Angeles, where she hopes to make a new life. Gary Edendale divorces his wife and follows Mary Jane and the children to California. Soon her dream seems to be falling into place. She meets a favorite silent film star, Clara Kimball Young, who allows Gary and Mary Jane Edendale to manage her property. Gary finds a restaurant to operate, then Mary Jane has another child. But the Depression hits, turning the familys life upside down. Gary looses his restaurant and Mary Jane must take in dressmaking for the family to survive. Being an industrious soul, Mary Jane finds a way to promote herself as a couturir, by reintroducing her talents to her girlhood chum, Joan Crawford. Ultimately her style and her creativity are recognized, and she becomes established as Maryjane Edendale, Couturir. In the 1930s, studio bosses like Luis B. Mayer control the lives and contracts of famous stars, yet they find it impossible to control the sexual bombshell known as Mae West. Then the Los Angeles Chief of Police is accused of working hand-in-hand with mob bosses like Lucky Luciano. Maryjane develops a clientele of celebrities through acquaintances with Walt Disney, Helen Hayes, Claudette Colbert, and Mae West. Tragically a client, comedienne Thelma Todd, is killed by a syndicate hit man. Then Maryjane is exposed to an incident where a neighbor participates in a crime . . . a crime that ultimately exposes the rampant corruption of the citys administration and its police force. The Edendales nearly lose their home due to a major flood. Then finally there is an amazing twist of fate when a friends child is killed and Maryjane witnesses a suicide. This story about Reluctant Angels is a remarkable novel, told in Maryjanes own compassionate, often humorous voice. Here is an extraordinary woman who survives many tragedies, ultimately to discover the importance of shaping her own, and her familys destiny..