Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

Gen The Bookworm book review

Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum

Book Summary:

“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.”

Genre:

Historical Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

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.

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

book review-24

Keeping Lucy by  T. Greenwood

Book Summary:

“From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter. 

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on. 

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.”

Publication Date:

August 6th, 2019

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Review:

Wow! After reading a few books that were just “okay” I was feeling like I was in a little bit of a reading rut during these last few weeks. I started Keeping Lucy with high hopes and it was everything I hoped it would be. It was my first book by T. Greenwood and certainly won’t be my last.

I was immediately drawn into this story and the characters. Greenwood’s storytelling was wonderful and her attention to detail made me easily picture the scenes and the amazingly well-developed characters that were based in the 1960s and early 1970s. I have been wanting to read a book that just captivated me and this one did from the start.

I felt emotionally connected to the characters and was rooting for them all in different ways. Within the very powerful main storyline (that was based on real events) were smaller ones that also were very timely and powerful in their own right. Although it doesn’t seem that long ago, the last 1960s were shockingly different in many ways and I was impressed at how Greenwood could bring me there with such vividness in her writing.

This book was filled with themes of fear, persistence, friendship, hope and the most wonderful thing of all, the power that we can all learn and change. The ending of the book all came together for me in a very satisfying way and I was sad it was over which is a sign of a book you really loved.

Thanks to NetGalley, T. Greenwood, and St. Martin’s Press for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for my honest opinions.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne | Random House | Book Review

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies

Book Summary:

“Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

This book. I am sometimes hesitant to read books that come so highly recommended because I worry that I will have unrealistic expectations for them. I didn’t need to worry about that with The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It truly was everything the reviews said it was, and more. It is a long book, almost 600 pages and is one that comes together over time but is also hard to put down.

“I remember a friend of mine once telling me that we hate what we fear in ourselves,” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

It is the story of Cyril who is a gay man born into extremely conservative Ireland in the 1940s. It is a powerful and moving story that intertwines Cyril’s life with the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century and the long and difficult history of LGBT rights. It covers so much…friendship, family, loss, violence, politics, religion, and prejudice. It follows Cyril from conception through old age in seven-year intervals. Boyne is able to share this sometimes overwhelmingly sad story with humor which I found to be the most wonderful balance as a reader. It had many moments of wit intertwined with some pretty horrific life events for Cyril and those who became his family.

“You’re a bit of an oddball, Jonathan,’ I said. ‘Has anyone ever told you that?’
‘Nineteen people this year alone,’ he said. ‘And it’s only May.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

The characters were perfectly imperfect and the flaws made the story what it was. There were times of mourning and grief and there were many lessons learned along the way.

“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Cyril is an ordinary man with a very unordinary life and I loved watching the process of him finding not only who he was all along but also the road to self-love and acceptance. This book, even with its time of heartbreak, is about love, all kinds of love. It’s about what makes a family and how circumstances that are sometimes out of our own control can totally change our lives.

This book was thought-provoking and truly one of a kind. I will remember it forever and although at times it was hard to read, I am so happy I did.