Reader reviews and comments on Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, plus links to write your own review.

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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
    Apr 3, 2018, 304 pages

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Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)

A Walk through Manhattan
Lillian Boxfish/real life Margaret Fishback, the highest paid ad writer in 1930s New York, as she often reminds us, decides to take a walk around Manhattan on New Years Eve 1984. We travel from her apartment in Murray Hill to Delmonico's Restaurant to a party in the old National Biscuit Company building to the site of her success, R. H. MACY'S, 151 W. 34th Street. As I am unfamiliar with the city, I am grateful for the map on the frontispiece, and I find the story of her walk interesting. However, I must be out of step with the tedious account of her life after her forced retirement due to pregnancy. Perhaps she finds it tedious, too.
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Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)

Worth the Wait
I was eager to read this book for its historical content and the "views" of NYC. However I found the book to be a struggle to get through. In my opinion, the writing style was quite stiff – perhaps to reflect the earlier historical period.

Fortunately I stayed with the book and did finally encounter the wonderful portrayals of the characters and city itself – past and present. I just hope readers will bear with the stiff writing in the first half of the book in order to find the gems in the last half.
Esther L. (Newtown, PA)

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk
A most unusual story of Lillian Boxfish's journey through her life and times. Walking the streets of Manhattan have always calmed Lillian and been fodder for her poems. The novel showcases a very long walk around Manhattab on New Years Eve 1984 when she is 85. Befriending varied people along this walk,including three young hoods who want to rob her,she reminisces about her career in advertising at RH Macy's and her family.
The story was charming and beautifully written. Lillian Boxfish is a wonderful character and I hope she can continue to live exactly as she wants. Many thanks to BookBrowse for the opportunity to preview this book.
Linda Z. (Melville, NY)

"A Literary Journey"
Lillian Boxfish is a novel of fiction based on Margaret Fishback's life, that Kathleen Rooney researched. Margaret Fishback was the highest paid female advertising writer for R.H.Macy's in the 1930's as well as a poet who wrote and compiled books.
In my opinion the genre is historical fiction, but has the feel of a non-fiction genre and biography of the main character.
I found the main character, Lillian Boxfish, enterprising, adventurous, witty, creative, brave and liberal. Lillian is a workaholic, and enjoys the recognition and financial rewards. The author compares Lillian in the past and present, through an emotional journey, and a walk through her beloved New York City, where we see the physical changes that have occurred , as well as Lillian's memories through the years. The characters that Lillian meets during her journey are diverse and interesting.
I feel that the author writes about the challenges and changes through our lives, loneliness, friendship, and acceptance.
The book was entertaining, and I enjoyed the author's description of the historical times and landmarks in New York. I also was intrigued by the comparison and contrast of the times, the 1930's to 1985. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Teresa W. (Southlake, TX)

Walk down memory lane
I was surprised when I learned the author was a young woman as the book seemed to have been written by someone who was older and bitter.
I almost didn't make it through the first four chapters, but the book started hitting its stride about the fifth. I generally enjoy books of reflection on life but this character was in her predicament if you will because of her own vanity. The book tries to be a love letter to New York neighborhoods as well as the changes in this woman's life as perceptions of what a woman's place in life has become.

It's as though without R. H. Macy's and never the less formal Macy's, Lillian has lost her identity as have the neighborhoods she walks New Years Eve. Using the walk of the city to go over her life events could have been bittersweet but I found that Lillian was just bitter.
Alline A. (Rutledge, MO)

A Resounding "meh."
Oh, how I wanted to love this book! As a former retail copywriter, I looked forward to having a peek into what it was like at one of the forerunners of the industry. Instead, I found myself plodding through, dutifully, more out of a commitment to BookBrowse than to a desire to find out what happened. While LIllian was sympathetic, she was not very likeable. I simply did not care. Upon reading the author's notes, I was pleased to find that the book was based on a real person; and to learn that a woman had not only survived but thrived in the depression as a copywriter. However, the story as told just didn't work for me.
Mollie W. (Greenville, Alabama)

Slow read
The book started slowly for me, and I never fully felt invested after. The title character had a lot of pluck, which is what saved the novel for me, but it's a slow read.
Patricia L. (Seward, AK)

Yawning but still awake...
It's New Year's Eve, 1984 and Lillian Boxfish, 84, is walking to her dinner reservation while reminiscing about her life. Since the early 1920's she has lived and worked in the heart of New York City as both a copy editor and contemporary poet, remaining at the same address for the last fifty years. At the height of her career she was known not only for her witty poems, volumes of which were best sellers when people actually bought and read poetry but also as the most highly paid copy editor in advertising for R.H. Macy. Quite a feat for a woman of that time. As can be expected her fame and fortune came at great personal cost, especially considering the social norms and bias of the day. The story moves through the evening as the narrative weaves through Lillian's life. At most street corners there is a memory recalled. With every personal encounter Lillian reveals the tenacity that was honed when navigating the man's world in which she had excelled.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a novel based on the real life story of Margaret Fishback. Rooney has closely mirrored Fishback's life story, so much so that at time if feels like creative non-fiction. Boxfish/Fishback's life was interesting and consequential for women as a whole especially for those who followed in Fishback's footsteps. However, the assumption of familiarity of New York City geography and culture may be presumptuous for some.
I have a friend who frequently laments that she doesn't want to read stories that haunt her at night…I will recommend this book to her. While there is no murder or mayhem, there are lessons to be learned about women's rights or lack thereof and the stamina of women who created successful careers regardless. And Lillian is the master of the fine art of making a point while remaining civil and distinguished something we could all take note of today. Recommended for all who desired a story that won't haunt them once the bedside light is turned out.

Beyond the Book:
  Margaret Fishback

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