Feb 21, 2014

Book Review: FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck

Title: Fallen Beauty: A Novel by Erika Robuck
To be published March 4, 2014; NAL Trade
Genre: historical fiction

My comments: I admit I was slightly shocked by the free and easy ways of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who, historically, had both male and female lovers and a wealthy husband who enabled and supported her in all her artistic pursuits. A well known poet who became famous and relatively rich from her writings, Millay went by the name "Vincent" as she chased after new experiences for the sake of her poetry.

In this book, the fictional Laura Kelly, a young woman whose future is changed when she has a child out of wedlock, becomes a seamstress for the poet, making dresses, gowns, and cloaks for the poet's traveling tours. Laura's personality and struggles in life are a stark contrast to Millay's fame, wealth, and excesses, and we are left to decide which has the better life, in the end. The novel is narrated by both Laura and Millay.

I enjoyed the historical details the book gives of the poet, whom I knew little about. Engrossing and revealing, the novel pulls us into Millay's life of contradictions. The novel makes us question whether Millay's fame and art should outweigh the humility and the traditional sense of behavior of a person such as Laura. The author seems to prefer Laura. Who would you choose as the more worthy "fallen beauty"?
When ... Marie had shown up at my back door in tears, telling me that...Everette had slept with the poet, my shock had given way to anger. (ch. 11, uncorrected proof; final copy may differ)
About the novel: In 1928 in upstate New York, Laura Kelly, an unwed seamstress with a young daughter, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, the wealthy and famous Bohemian poet, work together to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. Each woman confronts what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself the price she is willing to pay to live a full life. (publisher)

GIVEAWAY: The publisher is offering a copy of the book to a reader. Please leave a comment to enter by February 25 to win a paperback. U.S. residents only; no P.O. box addresses, please. Winner will be notified by email by Feb. 26 and will have 24 hours to reply before another winner is chosen. The publisher will mail the book to the winner. Good luck!

I am including a sample of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay:
First Fig
  by Edna St. Vincent Millay 
My candle burns at both ends; 
It will not last the night; 
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— 
It gives a lovely light!  
See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20233#sthash.IWis1ZtK.dpuf

I received a galley proof of this book from the publisher. 



  1. This book would be captivating. thanks for your great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Wonderful giveaway. This sounds interesting and intriguing. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. Millay is an example of a woman defying social conventions. Would a man be viewed in the same harsh light? The idea of presenting her life through the eyes of another woman in social distress is an interesting concept.

  4. Huge Erika Robuck fan very interested in HER NEW NOVEL.thanks for giveaway.lomazowr@gmail.com

  5. Fascinating topic thanks for giveaway.lomazowr@gmail.com

  6. I have always loved Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry. Would love to win and read this novel about parallel lives.


  7. I wrote my address the wrong way. Please get this note.


  8. I will bow out of the giveaway, my TBR is out of control and I would likely never get to the book.
    Interesting that Robuck has chosen to portray her life in the form of fiction. The concept behind this book sounds imaginative and creative.

    I would indeed like to know more about Edna St. Vincent Millay. I must give her poems a try.

  9. Edna St. Vincent Millay is one of the most inspiring poets and historical figures of her day. I'd love to read a new treatment of her story. Thanks for the chance. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  10. It is pretty interesting how shockingly non-puritanical people of the past are. But I don't think it's any different today. We have our perceptions of what is the norm of a time, and to look back and put today's norms on the past is quite an interesting exercise. I remember reading about prostitution during the Gold Rush era, or about the rampant drug use during the time of Freud ... all normal then . ;)

  11. Thanks for hosting this terrific book giveaway! It sounds like a fascinating novel.

  12. This books sounds so interesting! Great review! I would love to win a copy! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!


  13. This sounds interesting, please enter me. I have read her poetry before, but never knew about her life.Thanks!

  14. It sounds like an amazing story, and a very wild time. I would enjoy reading this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.



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