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Beauty: A Novel Hardcover – March 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476716927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476716923
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The fast-moving, cutthroat world of corporate acquisitions and mergers proves a fascinating milieu for the story of one woman. Carol McLean, 56, is the “undertaker” who delivers the news that a company is dead for New York firm Baxter Blume, and in that role, she has become known as “the Beast.” After just one more burial—of Elizabeth’s Fish in coastal Massachusetts—she’s been promised her own company. But Baxter Blume reneges and fires her instead, and Carol—impressed by the women who work the line at the fish factory—acts to make Elizabeth’s Fish her own to run. With her blue-collar background, Carol relates to the people of Elizabeth Island, particularly to fisherman Ezekiel “Easy” Parsons, who tags her with the nickname “Beauty.” Dealing with a proposed zoning change is easy, but then comes the potentially fatal injunction limiting the local fishing that’s essential to Carol’s plan. Dillen’s third novel (after Hero, 1994, and Fool, 1999) is an absorbing story of one smart, hardworking woman handling the “fat boys” of corporate leadership on their own turf, with masterfully developed characters and, as a bonus, a poignant romance. --Michele Leber

Review

"BEAUTY is a heart-bursting gem of a novel—a love story, a riveting tale of high stakes intrigue, and a hero's journey that spins a contemporary twist on timeless values rooted deep in the American soul. Dillen’s tightly crafted narrative is the modern working woman’s Rocky. You will root for these vivid, off-beat characters waiting to leap up from the last pages with a fist pumping cheer for their hard earned redemption." (Carol Cassella, bestselling author of GEMINI and OXYGEN)

“A feel-good story with a dash of romance.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Kudos to Dillen for his unusual premise. The workplace drama that follows is rousing.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Dramatic and emotional…And it’s nice to have a middle-aged heroine for a change.” (Library Journal)

“An absorbing story of one smart, hardworking woman handling the ‘fat boys’ of corporate leadership on their own turf, with masterfully developed characters and, as a bonus, a poignant romance.” (Booklist)

“[Dillen is a] thoughtful writer…the setting rings true for all who face the contemporary New England issues of overfishing, government regs and catch limits in real working towns whose history is bound up with hard-working fishermen…immensely enjoyable.” (Barnstable Patriot)

The tiny seaside town is comforting in its claustrophobia, charming in its smelly fishiness. The characters…are round, colorful, and infused with emotion.” (FefferBooks.com)

"This book is a jewel that shines brighter with each turn of the page!" (Feathered Quill Book Reviews)

More About the Author

Frederick G. Dillen was born in Greenwich Village to a family on fire, raised in a New Hampshire boarding school, and graduated from Stanford. To pay for his writing, he worked odd jobs from Lahaina to Taos and New York to L.A., managing a hotel and running a fake ranch, carrying plates and shilling for business. His short fiction has appeared in literary quarterlies and "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards". His "Hero" was named Best First Novel of 1994 by the "Dictionary of Literary Biography". Dillen and his wife Leslie are parents of two grown daughters and three dogs and have settled, for good they hope, in New Mexico.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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May they prosper and love each other for the rest of their lives.
Bill Maguire
Mr. Dillen paints a vivd portrait of a New England fishing town that bands together to save its local industry from corporate rapaciousness.
Gretchen
Like his previous novel "Fool" Fred Dillen has crafted a compelling story filled with memorable characters, compassionately drawn.
Scott Harrison

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Irons on March 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Beauty has so much: Characters one cares for -- especially Carol MacLean, a woman in her 50s who yearns to run her own company. A smart, original, and moving plot -- that neatly captures aspects of 21st century American capitalism. Taut and lively writing -- negotiations, bluffs, lies, and quick decisions done in terse and real speech. So much invisible thought and care went into the creation of this small masterpiece. Another rarity: It's a physically beautiful book that reminds one of the tactile pleasures of paper and type well done.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sallie Bingham on March 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This brilliant novel from an experienced writer who like many of our best has not yet received the recognition he has earned shows Frederick Dillen writing at the top of his bent. This imaginative recreating of a climactic time in a New England fishing village on the verge of collapse is told through and about a woman character who is created with an authenticity I've only encountered once before, in Madame Bovary. Flaubert's dictum, "Madame Bovary, c'est moi" could well stand for Dillen's imaginative scope and grasp of his heroine--who is of course also an anti-heroine, a too-tall, too-plain woman in a terrible profession who seizes her life by the throat and gives it a good shake. Don't let this novel pass you by; order it today for a read that will fire your imagination and fill you with enthusiasm for what fiction can but so rarely does achieve.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sheperd Paine on March 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Beauty, and I found it hard to put down once I got into it. That is partly because it is an easy read, well-written and entertaining, with enough mystery as how it is all going to turn out to keep the reader’s interest. It is in many ways a delightfully old-fashioned book about a group of underdogs pursuing the American dream, with more than a little Frank Capra stirred into the mix. It has a rich cast of characters, and I like the way some of them shift kaleidoscopically from good to bad and vice versa. Some people seem impressed by the accuracy with which Dillen captures the corporate world of buyouts and takeovers; I can't comment on that (though I liked it), but I was equally taken by Dillen's knowledge of the New England fishing industry. While I don't have that experience either, I've spent enough time at our family place on Cape Cod to have some idea of what life in a small fishing town is like, and Dillen captures the people and atmosphere convincingly. The moment when the leading man finally summons up the courage to tell the woman he loves of his feelings toward her is a comic moment to be savored.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scott Harrison on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Like his previous novel "Fool" Fred Dillen has crafted a compelling story filled with memorable characters, compassionately drawn. And at the center is Carol MacLean, whose resilience and courage helps energize and unite a community. She and Ezekiel (Easy) Parsons join Barnaby Griswold from "Fool" in Fred Dillen's growing line of rich, idiosyncratic, complex and deeply human characters. This story about the power of second chances is as provocative as it is uplifting, and is filled with humor and the dignity of the human spirit. Combine all this with the fact that "Beauty" is a real page-turner which had me cheering for the underdog throughout, but with no idea of what would happen next and you have some terrific story-telling. A real joy to read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erica Funkhouser on March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
BEAUTY is a perfect storm of human, rather than meteorological, events: a New York mergers and acquisitions firm is eager to offload an unprofitable fish processing plant, a tough not-so-young businesswoman who dreams of running her own company is fired while she's in Gloucester to accomplish this "burial," and a shy but proud fishing boat captain is looking to both save his beloved boat and make some romantic headway with the new girl in town.

Put the kids to bed, turn off the TV, pour yourselves a glass of wine and start reading BEAUTY out loud to each other. You won't stop soon. Dillen's prose is crisp and witty and savvy about both corporate shenanigans and the quirks and beauties of small town life. Carol MacLean, his heroine, is someone you already know, a restless self-made middle-aged survivor who hungers for more -- more independence, more challenge, more human connection, more fun and more life! She enters the novel as an expert in burials, but she is soon embroiled in the arduous and often amusing birth of a whole new enterprise, a project calling on all her resources, both intellectual and emotional. You'll be rooting for her all the way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barb Lawrence on March 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I wasn't disappointed with this book. I found it to be an uplifting story of one small town's struggle to survive being sold out by the greedy fish-packing plant that was its main industry and employer. In the process the corporate undertaker sent to dismantle the plant and assets falls in love with the town and, incidentally, one of the area fishermen.

Not an earth-shatteringly deep plot, but a good, well written story with a happy ending -- always a nice benefit. I enjoyed it and would recommend as a good weekend read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill Maguire on March 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
With his most recent novel, BEAUTY, Fred Dillen has penned one of the most compassionate pieces of fiction I've read in some time. I grew up in the northeast suburbs of Boston, and Fred's word-picture of blue-collar folks in Red Sox ball caps trying to earn a decent living off the sea was spot-on and brought back memories of my childhood and adolescence I was happy to recapture. And having spent a career In New York on Wall Street, I was struck by the clarity with which he painted buyout firm Baxter Blume. Best wishes to Carol and Easy. May they prosper and love each other for the rest of their lives. Is it too late to order some illegal frozen toothfish?
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