Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum
“Like Swans of Fifth Avenue and Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, Richard Kirshenbaum’s Rouge gives readers a rare front-row seat into the world of high society and business through the rivalry of two beauty industry icons, by the master marketer and chronicler of the over-moneyed.
Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the rivalry of the pioneers of powder, mascara, and rouge.
This fast-paced novel examines the lives, loves, and sacrifices of the visionaries who invented the modern cosmetics industry: Josiah Herzenstein, born in a Polish Jewish Shtlel, the entrepreneur who transforms herself into a global style icon and the richest woman in the world, Josephine Herz; Constance Gardiner, her rival, the ultimate society woman who invents the door-to-door business and its female workforce but whose deepest secret threatens everything; CeeCee Lopez, the bi-racial beauty and founder of the first African American woman’s hair relaxer business, who overcomes prejudice and heartbreak to become her community’s first female millionaire. The cast of characters is rounded out by Mickey Heron, a dashing, sexy ladies’ man whose cosmetics business is founded in a Hollywood brothel. All are bound in a struggle to be number one, doing anything to get there…including murder.”
Rouge is a historical fiction novel that introduces you to two women who are competing against each other in the beauty industry starting in the 1920s. Kirshenbaum delivers an entertaining read that gives us a look at high society, business tactics, betrayal and the power of beauty.
I found that the story was engaging but that the characters lacked a depth that would help me understand them more as people and not just as business rivals. Women running businesses at this time was not common and I would have loved to see more behind the scenes details of this important and powerful topic. Because of this I had trouble really connected with the characters are anything but a more superficial level. I would have loved to hear more of the “real story” and less of the rivalry and antics that took over during the storytelling.
*I was gifted a copy of this book to review and all opinion are my own.