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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk: A Novel Hardcover – January 17, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of January 2017: This is a novel about an 85 year-old woman who wends her way to a party. I may have lost you already, but Kathleen Rooney and her delightful Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk will not. Turns out, Ms. Boxfish is a fascinating woman who has led a fascinating life, the details of which she teases out before bidding adieu to the year 1984. One of the most talented and successful ad women for R.H. Macy’s in the 1930s (the character is based on real-life ad woman and author, Margaret Fishback), Ms. Boxfish was once the toast of New York. She reminisces about the time she asked her boss to pay her the same as her less accomplished male counterparts. Seeing as though that’s a battle still being fought today, you can guess how that went, but this incident hints at the kind of woman our feisty flâneuse is. You will learn more about Lillian’s life as a “Mad Woman,” and the one she didn’t anticipate as a wife and mother...Her story takes a dark turn or two as well, and you will root for her as she responds with her signature wit and mettle.
There are beloved works in the canon of great literature featuring famous walkers (James Joyce’s Ulysses and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway immediately come to mind). One of the joys in reading them is the motley cast of characters our heroes and heroines encounter along the way, and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is no exception. Whether it’s a bartender, a bodega employee, or a group of thugs, Lillian confronts them with the same infectious curiosity, compassion, and pluck. It’s a testament to Rooney’s writing chops that you’ll want to walk with Lillian as she ponders, all the while paying homage to New York in its gritty glory. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review
NOW A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
“Irresistible...funny and touching....This witty and heartfelt ode to a city, to its infinite variety, to its melting pot of citizens not only enchants but offers an important lesson: that human connections and work are what give life meaning.”
“Transporting…witty, poignant and sparkling.”
―People (People Picks Book of the Week)
“Prescient and quick....A perfect fusing of subject and writer, idea and ideal.”
“Lillian’s wide-ranging meditations are reason enough to read this charming novel, but it’s also like taking a street-level tour through six decades of New York.”
―New York Times
“Extraordinary…hilarious…Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time―and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
―Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)
"Rooney's delectably theatrical fictionalization is laced with strands of tart poetry and emulates the dark sparkle of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Truman Capote. Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney’s nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor."
―Booklist (starred review)
“Effervescent…steeped in humanity and wit.”
―The Christian Science Monitor (10 Best Books of January)
“Needle-sharp....A delightful stroll with a colorful character.”
―Library Journal (starred review)
"Past and present intermingle in Rooney’s novel, distinguished by a careful shift from past to present tense but always unified by Lillian’s unfailingly witty, reflective voice."
“Easily the best gadding-around-town novel since Dawn Powell and Dorothy Parker.”
―Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and We Are Pirates
"There is a little of Lillian Boxfish in all of us. And if there isn’t, there ought to be.”
―Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me
"A lively, fictionalized version of Fishback's story...[with] plenty of charm."
“If you are not charmed by Lillian Boxfish, then there may be no hope for you.”
―Bookpage (Book of the Day)
“This walk will sweep listeners off their feet…seemingly effortless yet so compelling.”
―AudioFile Magazine (Earphones Award winner)
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Top Customer Reviews
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”
Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now—her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl—but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed—and has not.
My Thoughts: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk: A Novel is a delightful journey through the streets of Manhattan, reminding the reader of the times in which this character lived: 20th Century life with all of its quirks, just as Lillian relishes her own idiosyncrasies.
Lillian is the kind of character women might emulate, with her independent streak a mile wide, and her insistence on finding her way on her own a metaphorical “walk through the streets.” A perfect salute to a time long gone, I enjoyed how the walk offered the character an opportunity to reminisce about her life, from the 1930s to the momentous New Year’s Eve in 1984.
She looked back at her celebratory moments, but also those that revealed her vulnerabilities. When she suffered from a “breakdown” of sorts, and when she realized that, to some, she was no longer relevant, we could relate, as everyone has both good and bad to reflect on in a long life.
Despite her realizations, however, she is stalwart and determined to move forward on her own terms. She is definitely a character to root for…and her candid assessments of her life will make her a memorable one. Here’s to Lillian! Five stars.
Don't miss the this book. Enjoy.
Let me just tell everyone, that this is not a "cutesy" book just for women. Certainly, women might enjoy it a bit more, but this story is about life. Yes, Lillian was a well paid, ad-woman in the 1930's for a famous NY department store, but it's so much more than that. So much more.
Also, the hardcopy book includes a map of her walk. Bonus!
I will definitely be recommending this book to friends. (I do wonder where she got the name "Boxfish"?)