“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.
Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck kept losing my attention. I have started it several times but keep putting it back down. Constantly switching narrators is annoying and frustrating – just as you get used to it being in one character’s voice it switches to another. The sad part is that the writer has interesting characters and time frame – the follow through… I wasn’t happy with. It is like Ms. Robuck never found her voice in this novel.
As a character I liked Laura, but excluding the beginning of the novel she lacked much life, excepting when she insisted on keeping her daughter she seems awfully wishy-washy. The idea of an unwed mother in the Great Depression era living in a small town dealing with the fall out of choosing to keep her child and the community backlash and pity could be very intriguing – but this wasn’t filled out. Vincent, aka Edna St Vincent Millay, as the second main character is interesting; but their interactions through most of the book make Laura seem wishy-washy and the poet shallow.
It takes until nearly the end of the book before Laura gains courage to not hide from everyone and tell only have truths. Fear of people condemning you is very real – especially in a small town and in a very precarious financial situation when your business is largely being replaced by mail order. I can’t blame her, the character, for fear of repercussions – anyone who has lived in a small town can understand that whether in Vermont or Italy. The end of the book was worth reading. Laura has gained her place in the community and has come to know her own self-worth, no longer a young woman to be pitied.