Becoming a Woman of Substance, the sequel to Beguiled, finds Miriam Levine Butler at age 38, having had an epiphany. No longer could she mourn her lost years, dutifully taking care of her handicapped daughter Alice. No longer would she bear the dismissive attitude of her once adoring husband, Noel. No longer would she resort to unhealthy means of numbing herself. The Great Depression rages on and on in 1938. Her beloved son Aaron is in California trying to be a screenwriter. Her immigrant mother, who now owns a grocery store, advises her daughter to “get out and do something. Do you want to end up like I did when you were a child? A nothing?”

Miriam heeds Ma’s warning. She ventures out of her purgatory, goes back to her old haunt, Romany Marie’s café, where she hears about the Federal Theatre Project and its daunting director, Hallie Flanagan. This launches her new life as she returns to her early love of theater, but this time as a field investigator of drought victims in the growing fields of California.

Despite setbacks, losses, and world calamities, this still beautiful and intelligent woman prospers on all fronts: finding engaging new work, friends, and a lover. Her early inclination to be self-absorbed, her desire to be a stage star, all dissolve as she finds fulfillment in helping others, in expanding the circle of people she welcomes into her life. The backdrop of the Depression, racism, WWII, and the Holocaust challenge Miriam’s equanimity, but she finds new strength within herself. Follow Miriam’s journey to becoming a woman of substance as she confronts her fears and self-doubt.

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Karma Kitaj’s new novel Becoming a Woman of Substance, which focuses on the demise of the wonderful and little known Federal Theatre Project in the late 1930’s, feels contemporary to me. In these challenging times for theater, Kitaj’s story uses history to guide us in how to keep our arts professionals alive.

Dirk Wales, (1931-2020) Writer of the series, Owney, a Lucky Dog, producer, writer and director, Rainbow Productions, graduate of the UCLA theater program

Karma Kitaj
2021-10-06T10:19:25-04:00

Dirk Wales, (1931-2020) Writer of the series, Owney, a Lucky Dog, producer, writer and director, Rainbow Productions, graduate of the UCLA theater program

Karma Kitaj’s new novel Becoming a Woman of Substance, which focuses on the demise of the wonderful and little known Federal Theatre Project in the late 1930’s, feels contemporary to me. In these challenging times for theater, Kitaj’s story uses history to guide us in how to keep our arts professionals alive.
Thanks to the gripping pace of Karma Kitaj‘s storytelling talents, Miriam Levine Butler instantly becomes a Woman of Substance page after page right before my eyes and heart. As a theater professional, I was initially drawn to this book for the chance to learn and imagine Miriam as Hallie Flanagan's colleague and friend during her running of the Federal Theatre Project. Swiftly, my interest extended to Kitaj’s entire absorbing volume.

Len Berkman, Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Professor of Theatre, Smith College. Playwright, Dramaturg, Essayist, who feels English is his second language without his ever having a first.

Karma Kitaj
2021-10-06T10:25:20-04:00

Len Berkman, Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Professor of Theatre, Smith College. Playwright, Dramaturg, Essayist, who feels English is his second language without his ever having a first.

Thanks to the gripping pace of Karma Kitaj‘s storytelling talents, Miriam Levine Butler instantly becomes a Woman of Substance page after page right before my eyes and heart. As a theater professional, I was initially drawn to this book for the chance to learn and imagine Miriam as Hallie Flanagan's colleague and friend during her running of the Federal Theatre Project. Swiftly, my interest extended to Kitaj’s entire absorbing volume.
Karma Kitaj’s Becoming A Woman of Substance is an extraordinary and captivating story. She goes into depth about the significance of the Federal Theatre Project and beloved Vassar Professor Hallie Flanagan's role in shaping the life of Miriam, her protagonist. This book is filled with vivid detail that will engage and entertain my Vassar students, theater people, feminists, and historians. It can serve as a touchstone for years to come because it captures the tone and the era of the Great Depression and pre-WWII so well. Bravo."

Shona Tucker, Mary Riepma Ross Professor and Chair of Drama, Vassar College

Karma Kitaj
2021-10-06T10:27:43-04:00

Shona Tucker, Mary Riepma Ross Professor and Chair of Drama, Vassar College

Karma Kitaj’s Becoming A Woman of Substance is an extraordinary and captivating story. She goes into depth about the significance of the Federal Theatre Project and beloved Vassar Professor Hallie Flanagan's role in shaping the life of Miriam, her protagonist. This book is filled with vivid detail that will engage and entertain my Vassar students, theater people, feminists, and historians. It can serve as a touchstone for years to come because it captures the tone and the era of the Great Depression and pre-WWII so well. Bravo."
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Karma Kitaj

About the Author

Karma Kitaj

In publishing books about high-achieving people, Karma Kitaj (pronounced “Key-Tie”) has tied together a long-standing love of books with a family emphasis on lifelong learning. As a teenager, Karma devoured Great Books – Dostoevsky, Proust, Kafka. Her mother, an English teacher, grilled her on grammar so she could place first in state English and Latin competitions. In the mid-1980s, when she was turning 40, Karma, a licensed social worker with a thriving private practice, returned to school to complete her Ph.D., responding to her elderly Viennese grandmother’s insistent question: “When are you going to finish your studies?”