"Dawn Powell's 1942 comedy of manners . . .
steers us through the lives of women who come to New York from the hinterlands, for love, money, opportunity and a good time. One, Amanda Keeler Evans, a figure based on Clare Boothe Luce, is a vapid and conniving social climber who marries a newspaper baron to set her own writing career afoot. The other, Vicky Haven is a victim of Amanda's social and romantic manipulations. Few books have so bitingly and energetically captured the hunger for status and success that animate the city and enrage so many."–New York Times
"The Powell Effect is strikingly evident in her handling of the Clare Boothe Luce character in her roman à clef A Time to Be Born
. The character is, in every conventional sense, a monster of sexual and literary deception, and a consummate liar and user, yet seen through Powell's clarifying lens her actions become understandable – one even comes to accord her energies a respect akin to that we have for Becky Sharp. To feel, really feel, the heartbreak of an objectively contemptible character is an exquisitely mixed literary experience, and Powell was peerless in keeping her readers off stride." –Gerry Howard in Salon