By Alice Kessler-Harris
Bloomsbury Press, $30.00, 439 pages

A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman is not a traditional biography. Author and historian Alice Kessler-Harris writes about playwright Lillian Hellman. But it is not a simple chronological account. Instead, Kessler-Harris devotes most of the book to picking apart different aspects of her subject’s life and career. Kessler-Harris attempts to explain and accept the contradictory side of Hellman’s nature. The book is not an easy read. There is quite a bit of redundancy. As the author reviews Hellman’s life, she repeats the same facts and information each time. Kessler-Harris writes for an audience that is already familiar with the playwright. Topics include relationships, communism, Judaism and financial status. The chapters are deeply insightful and dig deeper than most of Hellman’s other biographers.


Reviewed by Katie Richards,