Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Fallen Beauty

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

Publication Date: 03/04/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: New American Library
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384 
ISBN-10: 0451418905
ISBN-13: 978-0451418906

(Received for an honest review from New American Library)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Erika Robuck on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Fallen Beauty, courtesy of the author's website (right hand side of the page).


“Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light.”

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.


Erika Robuck's latest book Fallen Beauty is a story in contrasts. The life of a small town, single mother and seamstress with the excessive and often selfish life of the renowned poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Though Millay's poems are highly memorable the story of her life is less so. But it comes alive under Robuck's pen as she balances and counter-balances the similarities and differences between these two woman, one fictional and one historical. Robuck's research is impeccable and her sense of story is just what the reader is looking for. A great new book, by an up and coming writer in the historical fiction genre.

What I liked:

Erika Robuck has taken historical fiction to a new level with her latest book, Fallen Beauty. She gives readers two totally opposite points of view and fuses them together. Two women, completely different, yet both fallen from grace. Laura the small town girl, whose one night of love, led to a mistake she could never take back and Edna St. Vincent Millay, a woman known for Bohemian lifestyle of riches, excess and debauchery. An in small town 1928 both women are regarded as pariahs. I loved the balance scale that seemed to tip on moment toward Laura and the next toward Vincent. It was an amazingly hard balance to strike, but with fantastic research and a fruitful imagination, Robuck pulls it off with style.

I loved Laura. She made a mistake as we are all wont to do at times, but her one night of love cost her a quiet and comfortable future. As a single mother and seamstress, she is pitied, looked down upon and even bullied by the women of the town because she will not reveal Grace's father. Yet she stands against them and provides for her daughter, even when it means dropping her own standards to work for Millay. She was tenacious and loving and all she wanted was love and family. My heart ached at the way she was treated, but she kept her head up and the ending is so emotional and poignant that readers will become a fan of this author on the spot.

Robuck's portrayal of Edna St. Vincent Millay elicited a somewhat different experience with this character. Her poems are organic and beautiful, the words flowing with a richness that was unprecedented in poetry, but her life was anything but conventional. Millay was selfish, extravagant, she lived for pleasure and experience at the detriment to all of those around her. I wanted to like this character, to find some redeeming grace in her, but there simply was none. And in the end that was what made her special. Robuck doesn't sugar coat the kind of woman Millay was in order to make the story more palatable. She just brings her life, will all of her flaws intact. She may have been harsh, but she was a realist and in she shows Laura a side of herself that she never knew existed. It just goes to show we can learn something from even the most unconventional of sources.

I simply loved this story for it's beauty and historical background. I liked the fact that the author seamlessly ties the stories of these two women together. Emotionally Laura's story tugged at my heart, mentally Millay's sharpness and willingness to put into words what no one else would voice challenged me. It was a a book I won't soon forget nor will anyone who chooses to read it.

What I didn't like:

I can't find anything to put in this section. I truly enjoyed this book, though there were sections that made me uncomfortable, but that's all in the hallmark of a good author.

Bottom Line:

Historical fiction lover's will eat this one up. It has a good historical backbone and adds and emotional impact that is both heart rending and engrossing. Read this one, it might be out of your comfort zone, but that's the beauty in it.

Fallen Beauty is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!  

About the Author:

Erika Robuck self-published her first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING. NAL/Penguin has published her subsequent novels, HEMINGWAY'S GIRL and CALL ME ZELDA, and will release FALLEN BEAUTY March 4, 2014. Erika is also part of an anthology of ten stories called GRAND CENTRAL (July 2014, Berkley/Penguin) set one month after WWII at Grand Central Terminal in NY. 

Erika has an historical fiction book blog, and is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Hemingway Society, and the Millay Society.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, April 2nd.

1. Please leave a comment about what you know about the poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


traveler said...

I have read her poetry. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy C said...

I have not heard of Edna StVincent Millay reading this post.
Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

cyn209 said...

eeks....don't know anything about Edna StVincent.......

hope I can still be entered for the giveaway!!!

Charlotte said...

I do not know any thing about Edna StVincent, sorry.

Texas Book Lover said...

This is the first I have heard of this poet so I don't know anything.

Angela - Bookaunt said...

I have not heard of this poet as I don't read much poetry but this book sounds very interesting to me.

Nancy said...

I have not heard of this poet or I have long forgotten it.

Natasha said...

I don't think I have ever heard of them.
Thanks for the chance to win!

bn100 said...

Haven't heard of her before

lag123 said...

I have never heard of Millay. I would love to learn more about her. I have a trip to the library today so I will try to find some of her work.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Anita Yancey said...

I don't really know anything about Edna St. Vincent Millay. But I'd love to read this book. Thanks for having the giveaway.