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.
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing
RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2016
Beauty and Attention is smartly written with interesting characters and a look back at a fascinating time in world history. A loose remake of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, the story follows Libby Archer through grief and independence and self-discovery.
This novel started out strong for me, the characters well-defined and the plot intriguing. I liked Libby and Henrietta (Henry) and their friendship, and great possibilities awaited Libby’s journey to Ireland to visit relatives. (I did not know at the time that Beauty and Attention is an homage to Portrait of a Lady or I might have had different expectations.) However, as the novel continued – and Libby was on her own, away from Henrietta’s more vibrant personality – I found I didn’t quite see why everyone was so drawn to Libby. Other than her sweetness, she seems flat and weak. While she seemed independent at first, this either isn’t developed beyond people saying that she is … or she never really was in actuality. Perhaps this was intentional on the author’s part, but it didn’t endear me to Libby.
And really, that’s an example of my main issue overall with Beauty and Attention – just when I began to enjoy a character or an aspect of the plot, the character disappeared or the plot shifted abruptly.
Bottom Line: Overall, Beauty and Attention is a fine book. As an adaptation of Portrait of a Lady, it’s very good. It just didn’t hold my attention. But the beauty of literature is that what doesn’t appeal to me may very well be your favorite book. The author’s writing voice is engaging, and her ability to create setting is excellent.
Reviewer’s Note: Readers should be aware that there is swearing in this book, though it is a minimal amount and not excessive.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received through TLC Book Tours. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 3 stars / It’s well-written but not my favorite
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.
Other Books by Liz Rosenberg
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