Afterword by Judith Mayne
"Don't let's ask for the moon! We have the stars!" The film that concludes with Bette Davis's famous words would become a romantic cult classic second only to Casablanca, reaffirm Davis's own stardom, and change the way Americans smoked cigarettes.
As enchanting as the film it inspired, Olive Higgins Prouty's 1941 novel Now, Voyager provides an even richer, deeper portrait of the inner life of its protagonist and the society she inhabits. Boston blueblood Charlotte Vale has led an unhappy, sheltered life. Dowdy, repressed, and pushing forty, Charlotte finds salvation in the unlikely form of a nervous breakdown, placing her at a sanitarium, where she undergoes treatment to rebuild her ravaged self-esteem and uncover her true intelligence and charm.
After her extreme makeover, the new Charlotte tests her mettle by embarking on a cruise—and promptly falls for an unhappily married shipmate, Jerry Durrance, who perceives her inward and outward beauty. Their love is consummated against a stunning Mediterranean backdrop—but when the cruise ends, they agree they must return to their homes and families. But Charlotte's story is far from over. Now fully transformed through the power of passionate love, she must build a new life for herself while she navigates a host of surprising events, including a sudden death, an unexpected inheritance, a marriage proposal, and finally, a chance meeting with Jerry's young daughter, which helps Charlotte find both a nontraditional family and her life's work.
The republication of Now, Voyager restores to print one of the most enjoyable and intriguing popular novels of its day, and introduces contemporary readers to a fascinating writer. Olive Higgins Prouty inhabited the margins between genre fiction and serious novels in the tradition of Edith Wharton, and gave her "women's books" suggestively feminist twists. While Now, Voyager is a heart-thumping, tear-jerking romance, it is at the same time the empowering story of a woman who finds the strength to chart her own course in life; who discovers love, sex, and even motherhood outside of marriage; and who learns that men are, ultimately, dispensable in the quest for happiness and fulfillment.
"Like the film it inspired, Olive Higgins Prouty's Now, Voyager is as striking for the conventions it bucks as for the ones it embraces: a vivid reminder of a time when people crossed the ocean in liners and wore hats, and a hymn to an American ideal of social, moral, and emotional independence."
"At last we have the moon and the stars: at last, that is, the public can read a novel on which one of Hollywood's most stirring melodramas is based. The movie Now, Voyager, a love story as well as a film about mothers and daughters, has fascinated female, feminist, and even—despite its heated heterosexual romance—lesbian and gay viewers and critics. The novel promises to enhance our pleasurable perplexity about the film's many enigmas concerning the nature of women's most passionate attachments."
"What a satisfying book. At once tough-minded and terribly romantic, it sweeps us up in an ageless tale of love while foreshadowing today's notions of sexual liberation, emotional wholeness, and personal independence. Prouty is a wonderful writer, and her Charlotte Vale a timeless and very sophisticated Cinderella."