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Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk


Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk
By Kathleen Rooney
Copy given from St. Martin



We meet Lillian Boxfish on New Year’s Eve, 1984. Who is Lillian Boxfish? She was the most well paid, woman, copy writer, in advertising in the 1930’s. She worked for R. H. Macy in NYC. When we meet Lillian, she is retired at the age of 85 years old. She lives alone, with her cat. Her son is married and lives far away from her. She has decided she wants to walk the city to bring in the new year.  While she is walking every stop. She reminisces about her life and each different stop.
The publisher put in the front and the back of the book the different stops she made. I didn’t particularly like the map that was illustrated.  Since I lived in NYC. I would have preferred a real map that showed the different landmarks.
FYI- Lillian Boxfish is Margaret Fishback the real life person. You can look who she is here.
Image result for margaret fishback
I may have gotten a different perspective of the novel.  I graduated nursing school in 1985 in NJ. I used to commute to the city until I was able to move into the nursing dorms at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. I could identify with the landmarks, where Lillian walked. I remember walking during Christmas time in NYC. The beautiful Christmas decorations in the store fronts. The Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This brings back memories.
Remembering what it was like in 1984. The Mayor of NYC was Ed Koch. He was responsible for the clean up of NYC crime. The killings, muggings, dirty subways, and dirty streets of NYC. He was making a commitment to clean up the city. No more prostitutes, window washers on the corner.
In the novel, Katherine Rooney, uses Lillian’s son to talk about the crimes, and conditions of the city. Just think about it, is it realistic for a 85 year old woman to walk to streets anywhere now a days, especially the city, in NY. Her son is very worried about her. Walking the streets of the city. Be realistic, “Are you crazy, Lillian”. I don’t know what possessed her to walk the streets. I remember in 1984, I was 26. I was nervous walking the streets. Even when I was near the hospital, on the subway, on the bus, at night.
There were several  favorite parts of the novel that was touching.  I am not going to tell you too much. Just tell you she made a couple generous gestures to people. That made you feel good, and fussy inside. When she meets Wendy. A young woman. How they become friendly with each other. Even though, they are different ages.
I just loved the whole story. What is was like when she was young, and her marriage, and her troubles. Which I don’t want to go into. I don’t want to ruin it for y’all. I will say, I could feel the sights, sounds, smells, of the city. This is a charming, feel good novel, that is “unputdownable”. It is a book you want to hug, and not let go. It has so much warmth, and charm. This book is a keeper. I would top this with Golem and the Jinni. One of my favorites of all time.
I came out of this with aging, connecting with the younger crowd( perhaps because I am middle age), nostalgia, aging. The novel is so unique, and different.
Originally I got the book for a giveaway for our literary event from the publisher. Each year, the Moveable Feast does a book review before the Christmas holidays. The presenter was raving about Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. I am so glad I found out about the novel.
Thank you St. Martin for the copy to review. I am looking forward for our book discussion in two weeks. Even better, next month Katherine Rooney is coming to the Moveable Feast next month. It has been arranged for our book club to sit at our table. I am very excited to finally meet her.
I highly recommend.
5 cups
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