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:
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!
I received a galley proof of this book from the publisher.
GIVEAWAY UPDATE: THE WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY IS NAIDA, CHOSEN BY RANDOMIZER. CONGRATS!