[739]: Bachelor Girl by Kim Van Alkemade

A captivating page-turner that successfully combines baseball history, romance & friendships while ambitiously highlighting social issues of the times.

Bachelor Girl
Kim Van Alkemade

This was such a bountiful surprise.

Before there were doping scandals in professional baseball, there was Babe Ruth. He was the beacon of excess in the sport. His personality was so big – too big for any baseball field in America. He was a womanizer, a gambler, and was even rumoured to have died of a sexually transmitted disease. He liked to party and had a bit of a diva personality. When Boston Red Sox wouldn’t meet his demands, they sold him to the Yankees. This was where the legend was born, regardless of the titles he’d helped the Sox win.

Colonel Jacob Ruppert was the owner of the Yankees. A shrewed business man who has the nose for his opponent’s weaknesses. He made the Yankees a brand that’s synanymous to American baseball – even to this day. When he died, he left the majority of his fortune, and ownership of the team to one Helen Winthrope.  Bachelor Girl imagines her story that brings out to light all the whys of Colonel Ruppert’s intentions.

As I was saying, this was a bountiful surprise. I knew next to nothing about the Yankees as I’m barely a baseball fan. (I do follow the Blue Jays, but not as fanatic as say, the San Diego Charges). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again. When the book you just read made you dive into the oblivion that is internet research, you know the author did an outstanding job. And that is exactly what I did after reading Bachelor Girl. I sought out all what I can gather about Colonel Ruppert. And while I probably didn’t do such an extensive job as the author, I thought it was pretty interesting to find so many parallels to the real thing vs. Bachelor Girl.

Helen Wintrophe had so many stories to tell. She’s a dichotomy sometimes. A feminist when it comes to her rights and abilities but at the same time, she fell prey way too easily to other men. Which made her as close to being real, in my opinion. This is the Jazz Age – in New York City. And while New York was progressive with some stance, there were still social issues that the state lagged on. I love how Ms. Van Alkemade tackled them in a way that was quite possibly appropriate for the era. Like a relationship between Helen and her friend, who was an African American wouldn’t come to anything just because. But Helen still fought for him and remained her friend right to the end, even after he married somebody else.

Gay rights, social cast differences, abortion, gender inequality, and prohibition were also tactfully explored.

Overall, Bachelor Girl was both informative and entertaining. It’s about secrets and what they’ll do to keep them if only to prevent hurting the people they love. I vacillated between frustration and anxiety while waiting for the truth to be revealed. And while I didn’t get the resolution that I selfishly wanted, it was the way Helen’s story needed to be told.

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