From Kim van Alkemade, author of the New York Times bestseller, “Orphan #8,” comes a new and exceptional work of near-history fiction — “Bachelor Girl,” a gripping story about the destructive power of secrets and the redemptive power of love — set in New York City and inspired by a true historical event. “Bachelor Girl” will be released on March 6, and Van Alkemade will appear at The Bookmark Shoppe in Bay Ridge on May 24.
“Bachelor Girl” is set in 1939, and Helen Winthrop Weyant, an unknown actress, inherits much of the legendary New York Yankees owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s fortune upon his death. The book offers a compelling answer to the mystery surrounding the legacy of America’s pastime. Claiming she had met the colonel 14 years before his death, her name had never before appeared in the press in connection to the legendary baseball owner until it was revealed in his will that she was to receive a third of his estate. While the relationship between Ruppert and Weyant has never been clarified, through incredible research and novel inspiration, van Alkemade imagines their story, and more.
In “Bachelor Girl,” Helen prides herself on going against the norm. After the tragic death of her father, Helen and her family move to New York City where she lives as a “bachelor girl,” an unmarried, young working woman living on her own terms, with dreams to dominate the Broadway stage as an actress. In the city, she reconnects with the man she blames for her family’s tragedy, Ruppert, multimillionaire brewer and owner of the New York Yankees.
After Ruppert takes her under his wing, she grows closer to him and his handsome and sensitive personal secretary, Albert Kramer. Helen and Albert develop a deepening bond the closer they become to Ruppert, an eccentric millionaire who demands their loyalty in return for his lavish generosity.
As her relationship with Albert becomes emotionally intimate, she begins to fall in love with him — even after Albert reveals his most protected and dangerous secret about his sexuality. Struggling between two forbidden loves, finding her own place in the working world and dealing with the scars of her past, Helen struggles to stay true to herself against the dazzling and often tumultuous backdrop of New York City’s Jazz Age.
Only when Ruppert’s own secrets are finally revealed will Helen and Albert be forced to confront the truth about their tangled relationships. With readers fascinated by the mid-20th century, as evidenced by the ongoing popularity of other near-history books like “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly, “Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan and “The Summer Before the War” by Helen Simonson, and with incredible book-club-discussion-worthy characters that shed light on some of the lesser known aspects of this time — the rise of bachelor girls, the gay subculture in New York and the struggles of people of color — van Alkemade’s rich and evocative historical narrative, which elucidates the true meaning of family, identity and love in all its forms, celebrates the diversity of the American experience.
Van Alkemade’s creative nonfiction essays have appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, CutBankand So to Speak. Born in New York City, she earned a BA in English and history from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is a professor in the English Department at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches writing.