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She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh

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Some books tell the life of a famous person. Others tell the life and historical times. This book, based on lived experience, not scholarship, tells essentially the life and sociological times of Dolly Parton. Sarah Smarsh, the author, grew up working class in Kansas and her memoir of that experience, Heartland: a Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country in the World was a finalist for the National Book Award because – like this book – it put a life in the context of class and culture. "Affectionate and astute ... Smarsh’s luminescent prose and briskly tempered storytelling make for an illuminating take on a one-of-a-kind artist."—Publishers Weekly, starred review. "Combining tribute, memoir and social commentary, Smarsh analyzes how Dolly Parton’s songs—and success—have embodied feminism for working-class women.People. "She Come By It Natural is a praise song for the cultural icon, but what emerges from an examination of Parton's life and work is just how much relevance her lyrics have had -- for Smarsh and for other women -- and why so much of the book is so deeply personal. . . . The fruit of that devotion is a tribute to the woman who continues to demonstrate that feminism comes in coats of many colors." Los Angeles Times. "Smarsh and Parton are a perfect pairing for the kind of in-depth examination into gender and class and what it means to be a woman and a working-class hero that feels particularly important right now. Refinery29. "A warm-hearted journey into what Dolly means to generations of women who saw their lives reflected in her songs, who first embraced her not as a star but a sister."—Elizabeth Catte.

New York: Scribner, 2020. 187 pages. Hardback in dust jacket