From Publishers Weekly
Graham's humorous fictional autobiography of Poppy Minkel, the tart-tongued heiress ("Jewish, to just the right degree") of Minkel's Mighty Fine Mustard, is a Zelig-like romp through the 20th century. Poppy's irrepressible voice recreates her world with a disarming bluntness that often abandons propriety for a good laugh ("education is a greatly overrated thing") while never sidestepping the essential truths of any well-lived life (e.g., "No one can be expected to look at difficult art without a glass in one's hand"). Graham's enjoyable The Future Homemakers of America toasted the delights of long-term friendship between women and exhibited the author's flair for nostalgic historical fiction. Her new novel views history through Poppy's wide, self-obsessed eyes, painting a lyrically linear portrait of a flawed, believable character who never abandons her quest to be a "heroine." Poppy's "memoir" begins with her grief over losing her father on the Titanic, barrels along at a great pace through WWI, the 1920s, the 1930s, WWII, the 1960s and ends with a sanguine widow's observations in the late 1970s. Poppy's evolution through heiress/shop girl, fashion "originator"/wife, aviatrix/seductress, mother/art gallery owner/widow proceeds at a dizzying clip. Married first to a rake she meets while selling ties at Macy's, Poppy divorces him after their first child is born and takes up with a Brit distantly related to the Royals. Their affair results in a surprise pregnancy and leads to a second, happier marriage. Poppy weathers many losses, but her friendship with her stepbrother Murray-most beloved of her family members-teaches her a great lesson: "In life you have to look ahead and not behind." Graham's protagonist is much less conventional than the book's title leads readers to expect; those looking for ordinary historical romance will get more than they bargained for.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Poppy Minkel-Minton Catchings Merrick is every bit as eccentric as her name. Heiress to the Minkel Mighty Fine Mustard fortune, she's a fey flibbertigibbet living in the shadow of her pampered sister and under the glare of her domineering mother and aunt. Though the dynamic may be pure Cinderella, there's no fairy godmother, glass slipper, or Prince Charming coming to her rescue. Poppy manages to make her own way in life, despite a disastrous first marriage and the death of her second husband. Indeed, from the sinking of the Titanic
to the 1929 stock market crash to the Nazi terrors of World War II, Poppy has always found herself in the thick of things, yet armed with an indomitable spirit and a rebellious nature, she manages to survive and thrive where lesser women would fail. Charting the course of Poppy's life against such a historically rich backdrop, Graham takes a sometimes silly, sometimes serious tone in this capricious exploration of one memorable woman's life. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved