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Sunday, March 9, 2014

ARC Review: Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

I have to confess when I started reading this book I was fill with dread, I couldn’t figure out what was going on or how Laura Kelley had anything to do with the bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Also, because the stories went back and forth from Laura to St. Vincent Millay I was frustrated because I did not understand why they were even in the same book. Well, I’m so glad I “toughed” it out the first couple of pages. Reading this was such an amazing experience! Erika Robuck is a truly talented, artistic, craftswoman in storytelling. There are scenes in this book that are imprinted in mind. Her wording and descriptions, of people, places and experiences-it felt lyrical.

Now onto these two fascinating women: Laura Kelley and the Bohemian poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Laura is a young woman, she lives in a very small town, Chatham, NY. When the story begins, Laura is madly in love, she is experiencing all the emotions of first love. Laura finds herself in a very difficult situation when she finds out she is pregnant, her lover, a well-respected member of their town can be of no help to her. Having a child outside of marriage in the 1930’s was basically like having a scarlet letter placed on you. (I personally loved that the author kept his identity a secret, and once I found out who he was, I went back and re-read many of the scenes they shared). Laura, is basically alone and quickly becomes an outcast in her small community. Although her sister, Marie, often presses her to reveal the identity of her “lover” Laura describes it as “a love so wrong it shouldn’t exist”.

The famous poet St. Vincent Millay is quit a character, it is easy to see why anyone would want to write about her because there were so many layers to her. She is an accomplished poet and also a woman that is very ahead of her time and refuses any types of restrictions. Although she is married and deeply in love with her husband, Eugen, that does not stop her from experimenting with other lovers. She has no restrictions when it comes to men or women. Her husband, every supportive of her and her talent is very loving and excepting. He understands Millay’s needs and openly celebrates them.

How do these two women even share a story? I absolutely loved this story and thought this was so fantastic. Both are woman, who are outcasts and looked down on, are enjoyable characters. I thought the author really captured the mind of St. Vincent Millay and her complexities, her vanities, her excesses. I also loved how she unraveled Laura. Although, Laura is fictional she makes her real and equally as complex. St. Vincent Millay gives Laura work that she badly needs. Laura, although an accomplished seamstress is struggling to provide for herself. Their friendship and relationship proves to be more than the town can tolerate. Robuck really pushes the limits in this fascinating book and makes you question loyalty, love and propriety.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N |


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