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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney X
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2018, 304 pages

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Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

A moving and entertaining read.
Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk is the second novel by American author, Kathleen Rooney. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1984 and Lillian Boxfish, ex-wife, mother, grandmother, just a shade older than the century itself, takes a walk from her home on Murray Hill to Grimaldis where she’s going to have her traditional NYE dinner. Walking the footpaths of her city sets her thinking: about her city and about her life. She takes a detour for a drink, and at Grimaldis, things don’t quite go as planned, and Lillian walks on.

As Lillian considers her life, she heads for landmarks meaningful to her: restaurants, a hospital, the Hudson River, places she’s lived and her place of work for fifteen years. It was at R.H.Macy’s that Lillian Boxfish became the highest-paid advertising woman in America. As Lillian walks, she thinks back on her life: her divorce, her marriage, the birth of her son, her honeymoon cruise, and another, less happy one, to Italy. She remembers parties, work, men, her best friend, homes, her boss, work colleagues, books she wrote and editors. A hospital stay and a certain TV appearance are among the less-favoured memories.

Despite the cautions and concerns of her son, she walks through the streets of New York on this last night of 1984, and she encounters its denizens: a limo driver at a loose end, a barman, a restaurant maître d’, a security guard, a kindly dinner host, an angry homosexual, a terrified expectant mother, a helpful and courteous shop assistant and some disaffected black youths. She dines, drinks, shops, parties, gives away money and writes a bill of sale.

Rooney’s story is based on an actual person, but is quite definitely fiction. She paints a marvellous picture of New York over a span of sixty years, and this is a tale that would appeal to readers familiar with New York City, but more especially, to residents of the Big Apple. The Boston Globe calls it “A witty and heartfelt ode to a city” and this is a most apt description. A moving and entertaining read.
Cathy M. (Milwaukee, WI)

An Enchanting Walk
Kathleen Rooney found an ingenious and charming way for 85 year old Lillian Boxfish to look back through her life. The author literally took her on a walk through memory lane by taking her through her beloved city of New York. She visits landmarks that were important to her and revisits both happy and sad memories at each landmark. As she walks to each landmark, she reflects on her life and the things New York taught her. Lillian also gains new insights into her life and the choices she has made.

If you want to read a book about an independent woman who is ahead of the times, this is the book for you. I think it would be great for a Book Club. Each member could talk about landmarks he or she might like to visit.
Rayna T. (Sacramento, CA)

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
I enjoyed this book. There were several parallels to my own life. I read it in 2 days. I would recommend it.
Janice C. (Hayward, CA)

Lilian Boxfish Takes A Walk
I loved this book. Born and raised in Oakland. Mapping out my walk right now.
Amy (Clifton VA)

A reflective examination of a life & the city in which it was lived
An insightful witty reflective examination of one woman's life & the city in which she has lived, NYC. Inspired by the life of the highest paid female advertising copy manager in the 1930's, this story examines the choices Lillian has made throughout her life as she visits places important to her during her life living in NYC. She tells the story of her life while reflecting on her life & choices she made while also describing the changes in the city she lives & loves. This book would be a great book club selection as it contains many issues & themes that we all face at some point in our lives…aging, death, mental illness, etc.
Karna B. (Long Beach, CA)

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Interesting premise using a walk on New Years Eve to review one's life. While initially I got bogged down in the minutia of Lillian's life, I came to adore her and relish many of Rooney's sentences. I loved Lillian's reflections on her life as a woman before her time, marriage, motherhood and mental illness. I love her walk and can't wait to take my next walk.
Carol (Pawleys Island, SC)

A Long, Long Walk
My stroll with Lillian Boxfish was enjoyable. She was a spunky older woman who's life experiences were interesting to read. I laughed right through her encounter at Penn Station. The map was most helpful and a thoughtful addition to the novel.
I like books that make me turn to google and expand my knowledge about a person or place. I certainly looked for Margaret Fishback and played "Rappers Delight."
My one criticism was that the walk was a bit too long. I was ready for Lillian to get home. I was exhausted.
Karen L. (Wilton, IA)

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
I enjoyed it. It is a blend of my two favorite genres-historical fiction and memoir. I also enjoyed reading about New York City. I am a small town person. I have never been to New York City. I have always been fascinated by it but also scared of it. I thought Lillian was very brave to walk in New York city alone at night. I also thought she was brave when she ran into her 3 would be muggers. I think book clubs, older career women and people who love New York city would enjoy this book.

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