Monday, February 24, 2014

FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck

  Some time ago I read Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck and loved it so much I was anxious to read this one.  This is her third book featuring a famous person from the Roaring Twenties; the other was about Zelda Fitzgerald and I haven't had a chance to read that one yet.

As in the others, Robuck creates a fictional woman who becomes involved (or ensnared) in the life of a real eccentric artistic type.  In this one it is Edna St. Vincent Millay who can hardly be overdone in eccentricity.  Our fictional heroine is Laura Kelley, a small town seamstress who has an illegitimate child.  The little girl, named Grace, is adorable and a delight for her mother, but both are shunned by the holier-than-thou leading citizens of the town.  The father isn't named but we know he still lives in the town, and I had the wrong man in mind until near the end of the book.

Out in the country nearby is a large house where Millay and her husband live.  The townspeople gossip tirelessly about the wild drunken parties that go on there, especially since they know men who have been seduced by the poet.  Apparently Millay and her husband have an "open" marriage, anathema to the rest of the world in that part of upstate New York.

Laura's only friend is her sister but that relationship is strained as well.  When no one will bring work to Laura and her electricity is shut off for nonpayment of the bills, Millay asks her to make an at home gown for her.  She pays ahead of time and Laura relishes working with rich fabrics, but she is afraid to let anyone know that she is sewing for the "witch."  More orders follow for Laura's own designs.  Such rewarding work.

Although I loved the character of Laura and enjoyed the up-tight townspeople, the real reason to read the book is this look at Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I had read something about her before so I knew what kind of person she was, but I believe fiction is the way to really get to know her and her lifestyle.  She was so self-centered it's hard to believe, but that's the way it was.

Highly recommended
Source:  Amazon Vine


  1. This sounds like a terrific historical read. I need to check out her earlier book as well.

  2. I know nothing about St. Vincent Millay so everything in this book will be new to me. The author is coming here soon so I'm glad to see this is good.