16 2023

Jewish Toledo Book Festival: Bessie: A Novel

12:00PM - 2:00PM  

Bessie: A Novel

by Linda Kass

Thursday, November 16

12 p.m.

Congregation B’nai Israel – 6525 Sylvania Avenue

$5 – includes kosher luncheon & author presentation 

$15 – includes kosher luncheon, author presentation, and book 

(Generously funded by Jewish Senior Services Supporting Organization)


Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City’s Warner Theatre are palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.

Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age 21, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world, where success is measured by intellectual attainment.

Bessie is a tender study of a bold young woman living at a precarious moment in our cultural history as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.

Linda Kass is the author of two previous historical novels, Tasa’s Song and A Ritchie Boy. Linda began her career as a magazine journalist and correspondent for regional and national publications. She is the founder and owner of Gramercy Books, an independent bookstore in Columbus, Ohio.