Today I'm sharing my thoughts about a recent read, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
On December 31, 1984 Lillian Boxfish decided to take a lengthy walk around Manhattan--her beloved adopted city of the past fifty years--on her way to a party hosted by an artist acquaintance. New Year's Eve is a contemplative time for many--a chance to look back on the year that is drawing to a close. For this octogenarian, it was also an opportunity to revisit many of her old haunts on foot and reflect on the relationships, choices, and experiences that brought her to the present moment.
Lillian had arrived in 1930's New York City as a young woman with a fierce sense of independence and a strong determination to make it there on her own in a man's world. Her talents led to a successful career as an ad copywriter for R.H. Macy's and recognition as a published author and poet. As the story unfolds by way of her memories, readers witness the setbacks and accomplishments of a life lived fearlessly and honestly, and come to appreciate Lillian as a trailblazer ahead of her time.
In this engaging novel, Rooney crafts a realistic view of evolving urban life; and as a native New Yorker, seeing the city through the eyes of the graceful, adventurous, humorous, and intelligent Lillian was a special treat for me. The decades came alive as Lillian shared the joys and challenges of her life. Moreover, the supporting cast of friends, business associates, and family members--as well as her encounters with strangers from various social strata along her walk--showcased Lillian's openness, spunk, and compassion for others.
Lillian thoroughly fascinated me from the very first page, and as the story progressed, I relished her authenticity and cheered her on in each ensuing chapter. She's an appealing and unforgettable protagonist--the beloved aunt, friend, and/or mentor for every woman trying to find her way in the world. As I turned the final page, I was pleased to learn that Lillian and her indomitable spirit would forge strongly ahead into 1985. Furthermore, it was a delightful surprise to read in the author's notes that Lillian's character was partly inspired by a real-life 1930's poet and R.H. Macy's advertising copywriter by the name of Margaret Fishback. It's heartening to know that female pioneers of yesteryear are still relevant and able to influence and inform us in so many ways.
I wholeheartedly recommend Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk to book club members and individual readers alike. There is much to contemplate and enjoy in this finely written novel by Kathleen Rooney.
Note: My review is based on reading a library copy of the novel. No compensation was received in exchange for this blog post.
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