Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

NOW A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER“Transporting…witty, poignant and sparkling.”—People (People Picks Book of the Week)“Prescient and quick....A perfect fusing of subject and writer, idea and ideal.”—Chicago Tribune 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...

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Title:Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Author:Kathleen Rooney
Rating:
ISBN:1250113326
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:287 pages

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Reviews

  • Kathleen
    Apr 21, 2016

    I wrote it so I think it's pretty good.

  • Diane S ☔
    Nov 29, 2016

    Lillian at the age of eighty five takes a walk through Manhattan. As she walks she meets many people and remembers the past. Based on an actual person, Lillian has led an interesting life, loved, lost, and reached the pinnacle of success.

    I really wish I could have loved this like some of my friends here did, not sure why I didn't. Maybe it was the tone that basically stayed the same throughout the novel or the fact that in many books in the past few years the elderly have walked with varying suc

    Lillian at the age of eighty five takes a walk through Manhattan. As she walks she meets many people and remembers the past. Based on an actual person, Lillian has led an interesting life, loved, lost, and reached the pinnacle of success.

    I really wish I could have loved this like some of my friends here did, not sure why I didn't. Maybe it was the tone that basically stayed the same throughout the novel or the fact that in many books in the past few years the elderly have walked with varying success. I did like seeing the history of New York City through her eyes and memories but since it is a place I have never been it wasn't enough. It is well written and future readers may enjoy this more than I did. I liked it but didn't love it.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Elyse
    Oct 28, 2016

    THANK YOU *St. Martin's Press*!!!! A BIG TIME THANK YOU!!!! Had I not received their sweet email recommendation --- I may have missed this doozy-knock-out-smashing-whopper-pistol of a WONDERFUL novel!!!!

    It's funny... I read most of this in bed -on my Kindle ebook - during the dark sleepy hours listening to the pouring rain outside my window, but I had never seen the book 'cover' until now. The cover perfectly captures the image of our leading lady. "Lillian Boxfish". Its exactly how I imagined h

    THANK YOU *St. Martin's Press*!!!! A BIG TIME THANK YOU!!!! Had I not received their sweet email recommendation --- I may have missed this doozy-knock-out-smashing-whopper-pistol of a WONDERFUL novel!!!!

    It's funny... I read most of this in bed -on my Kindle ebook - during the dark sleepy hours listening to the pouring rain outside my window, but I had never seen the book 'cover' until now. The cover perfectly captures the image of our leading lady. "Lillian Boxfish". Its exactly how I imagined her. Paul, my husband, says, "that's going to be me at age 85". I could only wish! (we do share a passion for walking). lol

    I have such a soft spot for Lillian Boxfish and her storytelling, ha: THANK YOU, Kathleen Rooney! If I wrote all that I'd like to really say-- this review would be 10-20 pages long.

    There are so many interesting and inspiring aspects about our main character,...that I find myself thinking about new possibilities in the ways I perceive myself and other people. Lillian was committed to living her life from truth, love, and joy. Her "physically impeccable" health-- in her 80's,-- in 1984, was a reflection of the way she lived!!!

    Right from the start --this novel comes 'ALIVE'. Lillian sets the stage by sharing a memory from when she was 5 years old. (While reading this novel.....I went back to that beginning early memory - when she was still a child - before coming to New York and read it twice more). I could see her little mind in action --Lillian was not 'only' taking inspiration from two strong independent women who came before her: (Sadie who lead her to Manhattan.... and Phoebe who led her to poetry and advertising), it seemed to me...that Lillian was most happy when she didn't allow herself to be contaminated with other people's life agenda. Lillian was a woman who simply was committed to her own inner truth. There was a scene early in the book when she binged on a package of Oreo cookies. She noticed what she did... ( wasn't her most proud moment, but also not a big fricken deal either. I'm thinking... "wow...what lesson can I take from this?" I'm serious... "what lesson can I take from this scene"? Hell... I could write a book! Haha!!!!

    Short point is: I'm sure Lillian did not binge on sugar daily, but at the same time, other than go for a walk to burn off a few of those calories -- only because it was New Years Eve and she was going to dinner in a few hours....she didn't beat herself up about it. Nor did I ever get the feeling that this woman assigned 'false cause' reasons

    about anything. She wasn't a women to sit around to bitch and blame others or herself.

    I loved her philosophical ways of looking at life: "things are the way they are". Criminals and muggers in the city? So be it! Didn't stop Lillian from walking!

    I LOVE HER! I love her I love her!!!

    We learn much about Lillian: her job with R. H. Macy's as the highest paid female writer in the advertising dept., her marriage to Max, ( he divorced her), her children and grandchildren, her poetry, her clothes ( she likes to think that she does not dress like a typical old woman), her lunchtime poems, ( people didn't always hate pigeons in the city), the spirited people she meets in the city, and the many places Lillian takes us while walking around New York a city!

    I hope they make a movie of this book -- HAM IT UP GOOD TOO!!!

    Oh... when I told Paul that my new heroine, *Lillian Boxfish*, once bought 25 "Helena Rubinstein Orange Fire lipsticks-- '25'.....BECAUSE she heard they were going to discontinue her favorite lipstick... Paul said, "sounds just like something I would do".

    NOTE: I would not!!!! NOT LIPSTICK.....

    But.... shhhhh, I did once buy 10 pair of Dr. Scholl's wooden sandals... when they were on a 'sell-out' sale. I, too, heard they were being discontinued. I've been wearing these shoes since I was about 10 years old. I still love them. I now have a lifetime supply. So... I say... "enjoy your lifetime lipstick, Lillian Boxfish"!!!

    Last....A WOMEN WHO WALKS..... is a woman after my own heart!!!! Walkers share a special love together -- in the same way readers do!

    It's so damn REFRESHING to read a novel that inspires humanity!!

    Totally enjoyable!!! Another years favorite!!!!!!

    Thanks again, St. Martin's Press, Netgalley, and 'hats off' to Kathleen Rooney!!!!

    A readers Treat!!!!

  • Karen
    Dec 03, 2016

    It's New Years Eve 1984, and 85 yr old Lillian Boxfish takes a long walk through Manhattan and reminisces about her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and top paid advertising agent for Macy's in the 1930's. Her main destination is Delmonico's steakhouse where she last had a dinner with her dead ex husband Max, though she makes many stops along the way and comes in contact with many different people.

    Lillian has had quite a life, is a true lady and she loves to walk, walks everywhere, and says

    It's New Years Eve 1984, and 85 yr old Lillian Boxfish takes a long walk through Manhattan and reminisces about her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and top paid advertising agent for Macy's in the 1930's. Her main destination is Delmonico's steakhouse where she last had a dinner with her dead ex husband Max, though she makes many stops along the way and comes in contact with many different people.

    Lillian has had quite a life, is a true lady and she loves to walk, walks everywhere, and says "I am not going to stay off the street. Not when the street is the only thing that still consistently interests me, aside from maybe my son and my cat. The only place that feels vibrant and lively. Where things collide. Where future comes from."

    This story is based on the true story of ad woman Margaret Fishback the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930's.

    This was more of a 3.5 read for me, but I love stories based in New York, hence the 4 star review.

    Thank you for the ARC to Netgalley, St.Martins Press, and Kathleen Rooney

  • Margitte
    Nov 18, 2016

    Before I knew that this book was inspired by the true story of Margaret Fishback, I was wondering how the last name 'Boxfish'(and even Fishback for that matter) came about. It reminded me of the joke names chosen in the previous centuries when people were forced to choose a surname and many of them did it under great protest.

    Names such as Obadiah Cockswinger and Chastity Goodtime resulted from it. Others were chosen for a different purpose and could easily be changed. For inst

    Before I knew that this book was inspired by the true story of Margaret Fishback, I was wondering how the last name 'Boxfish'(and even Fishback for that matter) came about. It reminded me of the joke names chosen in the previous centuries when people were forced to choose a surname and many of them did it under great protest.

    Names such as Obadiah Cockswinger and Chastity Goodtime resulted from it. Others were chosen for a different purpose and could easily be changed. For instance, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was originally named Sutton; when they acquired the Dudley lands and title, most family members began using Dudley as their surname.

    Sometimes, if there were several Jeremys in the area and one was especially tall, short, red-haired, disabled, etc., or came originally from elsewhere, he might be called Jeremy Little, Jeremy Red, or Jeremy Bristol.

    The sources from which names are derived are almost endless: nicknames, physical attributes, counties, trades, heraldic charges, and almost every object known to mankind. Tracing a family tree in practice involves looking at lists of these names - this is how we recognise our ancestors when we find them.

    It was in the this context that I smiled at the last name Boxfish and Fishback.

    is actually not accurate. I was first dumbfounded, then amazed, then laughing and then curious beyond belief! I could not imagine that someone with a name like that can become famous, but that's what Lily did and did so with aplomb. She effortlessly defied her mother and the world by turning the tables on the establishment.

    Lily Boxfish, an eighty-five-year old

    of the New York advertising world started a love affair with her newly adopted city, as a young unmarried woman, which lasted till the end of her days. By walking wherever she wanted to go, she embraced her 'new family' and home, as she regarded the city and its people. On New Years Eve of 1984, she donned her priced mink and riding boots and set off on a walk down memory lane, recalling her life in the city. She meets people on her way, visiting old haunts, and attended a party of young people, describing the city's old and changed ambiance.

    This is not a biography. It is a novel in biographical form. I can't remember when was the last time I wanted to jump up and down with excitement while making my way through the prose of a book. It happened from the very first words I encountered on my way through this tale. Apart from meeting a fiercely independent woman, a poet and ads-writer for Macy's, who made her way in a male-dominated society, often using creative ways to do so, it was also the love affair with a city that brought smiles and tears to my eyes. Her loyalty was unwavering; her love nonnegotiable; her humor original.

    Like the city, she went through the good and bad times of a New York, where the inhabitants were much like the pigeons:

    Her lunch poetry was her elegant way of screaming. Yet, so Lily believed, there was always this underbelly of brightness, hope and romance that played out everywhere, depending if you were willing to look for it. She was known as

    Lily was a scoffer at convention, cheery and bright when people during the Depression found repose in her prose. But then, when she ended up alone and recovering from a breakdown, she had her own demons to address. Her failed marriage; her relationship with her son; her husband's new wife, Julia, who was everything Lily did not aspire to, yet had to admit was doing the right things for her former husband, the only man she always loved. Her message to the world was undercut by all the things she wanted, all the people she had been. On this walk through New York on the last day of 1984, Lily was forced to take a ringside seat watching her own life and believes playing itself out down in the arena. And what a stack of memories waited in all the familiar places she visited that night!

    Like Lily, her New York was everything but perfect, her slip was hanging out. But like Lily, her city had a sweetness, a grace and elegance which could never be passed by, or be forgotten, or ignored. Lily, and her deeply-admired abode, were larger than life itself.

    I immediately compared this experience of New York in

    to a less digestible one in

    written by Anna Quindlen, and closed Kathleen Rooney's book, due for publication in January 2017, with a dance in my step, a song in my heart. It was just that good!

    Perfect in this genre. Historical fiction combined with biographical details. Just an amazing experience. I walked away a totally new person. My love for New York just became a genetic suspicion, and my status as a human pigeon completely, and happily, confirmed! A

    bubbled over in my soul.

    My heartfelt thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to accompany Lily on her walk on New Year's Eve 1984. It was a true privilege. Congratulations also to Kathleen Rooney for presenting Lily Boxfish through this eloquent tale to the world. It was done brilliantly.

  • Carol
    Nov 22, 2016

    - Overwhelming praise from my GoodReads friend Elyse sent me quickly to Netgalley to request the e-galley of

    . You may read

    here.

    I cannot thank the author, Kathleen Rooney or St. Martin’s Press enough for granting my early access to this book, which publishes January 17, 2017.

    - Per the publisher’s request no part of the text may be quoted until the book is published. Paraphrasing a sentence that gave me pause for thought is one that st

    - Overwhelming praise from my GoodReads friend Elyse sent me quickly to Netgalley to request the e-galley of

    . You may read

    here.

    I cannot thank the author, Kathleen Rooney or St. Martin’s Press enough for granting my early access to this book, which publishes January 17, 2017.

    - Per the publisher’s request no part of the text may be quoted until the book is published. Paraphrasing a sentence that gave me pause for thought is one that states that you surely will lose what you love most when you are not ready to give it up.

    - Eighty-five year Lillian Boxfish takes a walk and quite the walk it is. As 1984 gets ready to roll over to 1985, Lillian’s walk starts as a tour through familiar territory in her Manhattan neighborhood but quickly becomes something more as her steps take her on a journey of remembrance of career, life, love, family and friends. Kathleen Rooney has written a breath-taking novel that blends the prose and poetry of real life ad woman Margaret Fishback who worked for R.H. Macy’s with the spirited, elderly Boxfish. Beautifully rendered u> Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk is the perfect way to start the New Year out with hope.

  • Iris P
    Jan 22, 2017

    ★★★★★ 5 Lovely Stars!

    ***********************************************

    For centuries poets have used walking as a conduit to meditate, drive inspiration and find a path to enlightenment. For 85 year-old Lillian Boxfish, the zany, clever protagonist of this novel, her years as a

    might be behind her, but she's still someone who has the ene

    ★★★★★ 5 Lovely Stars!

    ***********************************************

    For centuries poets have used walking as a conduit to meditate, drive inspiration and find a path to enlightenment. For 85 year-old Lillian Boxfish, the zany, clever protagonist of this novel, her years as a

    might be behind her, but she's still someone who has the energy to enjoy a good walk.

    The year is 1984, Manhattan, New Year's Eve. As the last hours of the year elapse, Lillian takes a long 10-mile walk and brings us right along with her. While she encounters old acquaintances and makes new ones, she reminisces on her life, past and present. Observing the dramatic changes that have taken place in the city she has called home for more than 50 years, brings a certain level of nostalgia and sadness.

    It wasn't until after I finished the novel that I realize that

    's inspiration for this character was a real person. Like her fictional counterpart, Margaret Fishback was a poet and copywriter for R.H. Macys during the 1930's, becoming highly successful in both roles.

    If poetry and advertisement sound to you like two incongruously ways to make a living, keep in mind that America in the 1930's & 40's is a different world, one in which there's a market for poetry. Lillian uses her light verse poems to tell stories that entice customers while at the same time promote what she calls her

    persona.

    When we first meet Lillian, her son Johnny has been trying to convince her to come live in Maine, closer to him and her grand kids. He is concerned because New York is engulfed in a crime spree. In spite of this, she is determined to stay in the city she loves.

    Lillian decries some of the changes society has been undergoing. Her complaints range from the fairly mundane (TV sets have now become staples in some of her favorite establishments), to the more consequential (the loss of civil discourse, what she sees as the lack of creativity in the advertising industry).

    Criticisms notwithstanding, Lillian hasn't completely lost her ability to appreciate new cultural trends. In fact, she is fascinated by an emerging style of music called

    . This actually makes total sense since there is a strong connection between the metric and rhyme schemes used by hip hop artists and poets, or as she remarks the rappers

    In alternating chapters, our protagonist recalls her highlights: the publication of her first book, meeting Max (the man she eventually marries), giving birth to her son. And her challenges: struggling to adjust to married life,

    . Throughout the novel, Rooney plants enough landmarks that help frame Lillian's memories within the proper historical context.

    It seems to me that Lillian's secret to success had a lot to do with her ability to observe and read people well. I so appreciate how she makes a point of calling everyone she meets by their first name and takes time to really listen to what they have to say.

    Watching a character grow old is so interesting because it underlines the fact that getting older doesn't erase the essence of who we are. That's why, experiencing Lillian's zest for life, her sense of curiosity and sharp mind, and seeing how consistent those traits remained throughout her life, was so very refreshing.

    Rooney's writing is witty and illuminating and I admire her ability to write a novel so intimate that at times it almost reads like a memoir. Lillian Boxfish belongs in the canon of characters representing a generation of women so ahead of their times, they became feminist icons before that was even a thing.

    Now, I must admit to possess a weak spot for charming old ladies, so perhaps I am bias here, but Lillian Boxfish, non-conformist, fiercely independent woman, scoffer of love, poet extraordinaire, it was splendid getting to know you, such a smart girl!!

    ***********************************************

    I became a fan of Xe Sans listening to her narration of

    and

    . Sands seem to have found a niche narrating strong female characters.

    After you've been listening to audiobooks for a while, you can tell when a narrator has done her homework and prepared well to perform a story rather that just "read" it. I think Sans’s evocative, sultry voice was the perfect match for this novel. The conversation between the author and the narrator at the end of the audio, was a unexpected but wonderful bonus.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Fabian
    Nov 29, 2016

    In a walk her life. Her entire life. No. Not Virginia Woolf, nor her formidable creation Clarissa Dalloway. Instead, this is a figure that's less oppressive, much more chipper. Though not any less literary & monolithic.

    Never once in the company of this prolific, successful, mega charismatic woman do you feel betrayed--it contains the certainty of biography, with details so concrete & rich; you never fall out of her immediate orbit. She's irresistably graceful & dignified. & this

    In a walk her life. Her entire life. No. Not Virginia Woolf, nor her formidable creation Clarissa Dalloway. Instead, this is a figure that's less oppressive, much more chipper. Though not any less literary & monolithic.

    Never once in the company of this prolific, successful, mega charismatic woman do you feel betrayed--it contains the certainty of biography, with details so concrete & rich; you never fall out of her immediate orbit. She's irresistably graceful & dignified. & this is a complete smashing debut for damn sure!

  • Carol
    Dec 12, 2016
  • Will Byrnes
    Jan 04, 2017

    On New Year’s Eve 1984, 84 year old Lillian Boxfish sets out from her Murray Hill apartment on a considerable walk. In stopping at various Manhattan spots over the course of the night, she encounters prompts to memory that span her lifetime, and a major chunk of the 20th century.

    Lillian Boxfish, the character, is based on a real person, Margaret Fishback, whose career and life paths Lillian mimics. Like Margaret, Lillian hails from Washington DC, arriving in 1900, came to NYC in her 20s, and became one of the premier ad writers in the country. She penned several books of verse that earned her a reputation beyond her ad work. The poems that Kathleen Rooney uses in the book as Boxfish’s are Fishback’s. She presented a somewhat cynical view of romance, and had to eat a bit of crow when she succumbed to love and marriage in her 30s, taking it so far as to having a child.

    - from the Poetry Foundation

    In portraying Lillian’s life, Rooney shows us markers for the times. In her earliest memories we see, for example, a coal-powered railroad advertising the cleanliness of their service. Those who cynically refer to “clean coal” today would have been right home in the 19-aughts. In fact the book opens with what seems a fairy tale tone,“There once was a girl named Phoebe Snow,” the pristinely appealing character in the railroad’s ad campaign. Lillian will follow Phoebe not just on the road of anthracite but in her fondness for rhyming sales pitches.

    A nurse aunt brings mention of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and the Spanish flu pandemic. Other notable notes include the jazz age, the lindy-hop, break-dancing, WW II, rap, the subway vigilante, fear of crime in the city, automats, the Depression (

    ), construction of Battery Park City, loft-living by artists, AIDS, the changing looks and uses of city infrastructure, and plenty more. The rights of women are given considerable attention. Lillian fights for equal pay at Macy’s. Pregnancy is a termination-level offense. Her publisher pushes her to take a more upbeat tone, but Lillian is no shrinking violet.

    Of course, a look over any time period will not hold anyone’s interest if the guide on that tour is not engaging. Not to worry. Lillian is as hearty a traveling companion as you could want, although she does suffer from some well earned blues from time to time. She is bright, witty and charming, a character we can relate to, even if we may differ from her in this view or that.

    - from Entropymag.org

    I adored Lillian maybe a bit more than most for our shared love of the city. While I may have started my NYC life a fair bit later than she did, I have seen it over a lifetime, and my attachment is as strong as hers. I was here, and remember well many of the events she notes.

    The form of a person traversing a physical space as a structure for recalling a life is not a new one. Serial flashbacks are common enough. But it is done particularly well here. Lillian the younger is hardly the same as Lillian the elder, yet the core voices work well. In fact, one of the great strengths of the novel is that Rooney has made Lillian, from young woman to eighty-something, entirely credible. And her latter day walkabout is rich with a sense of diverse elements of the city, interesting characters who serve to illuminate the New York City of 1984, the fading institutions, the new trends.

    Lillian Boxfish is a marvelous, entertaining and moving read. I suppose you

    walk to your nearest book emporium to pick up a copy. But it your legs are up to it, I would run.

    Review posted – January 13, 2017

    Publication – January 17, 2017

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    ,

    , and

    pages

    This is her second novel

    A wiki on

    , who was born in DC in 1900 and dies in Maine in 1985.

    Kathleen Rooney wrote this

    in the Poetry Foundation site

    My favorite small poem of Fishback’s, (from what little I have seen), appears in the book.