Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…
That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…
Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.
In order to preoccupy herself and not think of the lover who has left her, Millay focuses her attention on the local seamstress, Laura Kelley. Laura, herself is a Fallen Beauty in the town of Chatham (just outside New York). Millay fixates on Laura and Laura is in desperate need of financial help. The two unlikely woman create a unique relationship, and eventually help the other to move forward.
Millay (or Vincent as she is commonly called), is a very passionate poet. I wavered on my feelings towards her a number of times--which I believe looking back makes sense. She seemed very emotional and immature. Yet, there were times she was very wise and helpful.
On the other hand, I adored Laura. She has been shunned by her community and is doing the best she can to support herself and daughter. She just deals with her lot in life and tries to almost hide from the town. I wanted good things for her and I wanted her to stand up for herself. I wished her sister Marie would have been more observant to what Laura was going through. Millay really was good for Laura even though she didn't realize it at the time.
FALLEN BEAUTY reminded me a bit of Peyton Place (the movie, I haven't read the book). The town is judgmental and in everyone's business and there is always one woman who takes it upon herself to bring others down. And oh the the surprises!!!
Once again, Erika Robuck writes a suburb novel bringing a historical writer to life. I will say, the first few chapters were more impassioned than I was prepared for. Robuck plunges right in and lets the reader understand the rawness of Millay. Millay was clearly intuned with her sexuality and allowed it as her muse to create stunning poetry.
Robuck's writing is breathtaking and captivating. She does justice to the poet. FALLEN BEAUTY took my breath away, I did not want to put it down. As I read, I was 'in' Millay/Laura's world. By far the best book I've read this year and my guess it will be one of the best books I'll read this year. Robuck is an amazing writer, breathing life into historic writers. Do not miss this book!
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