MLA Gold Award Site

Summary and book reviews of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jan 17, 2017, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A love letter to city life, however shiny or sleazy, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

It's the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be - in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America - a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

1

The Road of Anthracite

 

There once was a girl named Phoebe Snow. She wore only white and held tight to a violet corsage, an emblem of modesty. She was not retiring, though, and her life spun out as a series of journeys through mountain tunnels carved from poetry. I never saw her doing anything besides boarding, riding, or disembarking a train, immaculate always, captivating conductors, enchanting other passengers.

No, there wasn't. She was just an advertisement: the poster girl for the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. Her unsoilable Antarctic-colored clothes were proof that the line's anthracite-powered locomotives were clean-burning, truly—unlike their sooty and outfit-despoiling competitors:

Her laundry bill for fluff and frill

Miss Phoebe finds is nearly nil.

It's always light, though gowns of white,

Are worn on Road of Anthracite.

*   *   *

I was five years old when I first laid eyes on her, on a postcard sent me by my ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Feminist, intelligent, independent, creative, authentic, a woman attempting to balance career and family during a time when it was next to impossible. Lilian is a woman you want to be, hope to be, dare to be, her rawness, brutal honesty and ownership are mesmerizing.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

There is plenty of charm and occasional poignance here even if the novel makes you long for a proper biography of the real woman who inspired it.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time - and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge the past and future.

Booklist

Starred Review. Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney's nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Rooney (O, Democracy!) takes us on a delightful stroll with a colorful character, inspired by the life of poet and ad woman Margaret Fishback, sprinkling just the right details and arch bons mots appropriate to Lillian's reputation as a woman of words.

Author Blurb Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me
There is a little of Lillian Boxfish in all of us. And if there isn't, there ought to be.

Author Blurb Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up and We Are Pirates
Easily the best gadding-around-town novel since Dawn Powell and Dorothy Parker.

Reader Reviews

Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)

Seemed so Real!
This was a good book! I wanted to read it, because my cousin lives in the area Lillian started out in, but I never expected it to feel as if I were reading about a real person's life. It DID feel that way to me, and I felt as if I were walking ...   Read More

Judy W. (Tucker, GA)

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a charming and exciting book to which I can relate (senior citizen). Ms. Rooney paints a fascinating story of a strong, independent woman who became the highest paid advertising woman in 1930s America--a great feat ...   Read More

Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)

Lillian
I love Lillian Boxfish. What a lovely story. At her advanced age, she has lived, loved and overcome so much. I enjoyed learning about her as the story was told. I want to be like her when I'm that age. Hope I can be.

Becky M. (Crumpler, NC)

A Walk with Lillian
The novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk begins slowly, as does "the walk" itself. But as Lillian moves about New York City on New Year's Eve 1984, the reader's interest increases and there is a need for the reader to find out the details of Lillian's ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday
    by Susan Rivers

    A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Widow

"Engrossing."
- Stephen King

A loving husband or a heartless killer…She'd know. Wouldn't she?

Enter

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Question of Mercy
    A Question of Mercy
    by Elizabeth Cox
    Authors leave little gifts for readers, which seem to turn up at the exact right moment. Perhaps a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Terranauts
    The Terranauts
    by T.C. Boyle
    In an increasingly noisy and fractious world, the idea of "getting away from it all" holds ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Gardens of Consolation
    by Parisa Reza
    The Gardens of Consolation introduces 12-year-old Talla, and her 20-year-old husband Sadar, as they ...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H I A H Does

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.