- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (October 25, 2016)
The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit.
For misfit Libby Archer, social expectations for young women in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s don’t work. Her father has died, leaving her without parents, and her well-meaning friends are pressuring her to do what any sensible single girl must do: marry a passionate, persistent hometown suitor with a promising future. Yet Libby boldly defies conventional wisdom and plans to delay marriage—to anyone—by departing for her uncle’s Belfast estate. In Ireland, Libby seeks not only the comfort of family but also greater opportunities than seem possible during the stifling McCarthy era at home.
Across the Atlantic, Libby finds common ground with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus, then puts her trust in a sophisticated older woman who seems to be everything she hopes to become. Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets, as well as sudden wealth and unexpected love, Libby’s journey toward independence takes turns she never could have predicted—and calls on courage and strength she never knew she had.
Buy, read, and discuss this book.
The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravityand The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.
I really needed this novel this week. It’s so well written, and so hopeful, but even though the subjects are often serious, it’s not heavy. I love the way books sometimes come into our lives at the perfect time, and that was the case, for me, with Beauty and Attention.
Like the previous novel I reviewed, Madame Presidentess, this is a piece of historical fiction. Unlike that other novel, this one takes place in a period – the 1950s – much closer to our own. I found it particularly interesting to read a story set in the McCarthy era and juxtapose it with the current political climate (and the fears many of us have about the immediate future).
But this is not a political story. Rather it’s an exploration of self-discovery.
I really enjoyed traveling with Libby on her literal journey from the USA to Ireland, and her metaphysical one as she completed her coming-of-age process and figured out her own needs, wants, and goals. I would really enjoy having a coffee with her, and chatting for an hour or two, I think.
I also liked the character of Lazarus a lot more than I thought I would based on his initial description in the early part of this novel. Like Libby, he was interesting, dimensional, and not at all stereotypical.
Overall, this story is well crafted, with some great turns of dialogue that really popped off the page, and I found it to be both refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who wants a satisfying read that is compelling but also entertaining.
Goes well with tea and cookies – I vote for those “Danish” butter cookies that come in tins and are in all the stores during the holidays.
One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Beauty and Attention. How? There are three ways to enter:
- Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
- Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
- Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).
Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 27th.
Tuesday, October 25th: Reading is my Superpower
Wednesday, October 26th: Reading Reality
Thursday, October 27th: Building Bookshelves
Tuesday, November 1st: Just Commonly
Wednesday, November 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, November 3rd: Books Without Any Pictures
Friday, November 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, November 7th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Tuesday, November 8th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, November 9th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 10th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday, November 11th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, November 14th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, November 15th: Back Porchevations
Wednesday, November 16th: Bibliotica
Friday, November 18th: I Brought A Book
Monday, November 21st: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, November 22nd: The Magic All Around Us