This is another lost treasure which made its way to the big screen. Being unable to watch the movie which was recently shown on TCM, I decided to track down the book. Back Street by Fannie Hurst was published in 1930. The meaning behind the title surfaces about midway through the book. As it is a story set in the early 20th century, many of the words and expressions sounded foreign to me, but I did find them interesting.
Back Street is the story of a Christian girl from Cincinnati, Ohio named Ray who spends her adult life as the mistress of a wealthy Jewish man. The story, told from her perspective, helps the reader understand why she chose to live her life in this fashion. This fictional novel is so very sad. It tore at my heart-strings.
The book is almost 500 dense pages long, but I think it was a good story worth reading even if it is heartbreaking. At times, I wished for the book to end as it felt too long, but a lifetime of misery is not easily told in 200 pages.
Here is a link to a contemporary song which I believe aptly conveys the message of the book: Other Lady