The Beautiful American
by Jeanne Mackin
Release date: June 3, 2014
at New American Library/Penguin
Beautifully written story of reflection of days gone by. We enter the carefree, bohemian artists life pre WWII in vibrant, chic Paris. Two women, contrasting characters in personality and lifestyle yet bound by tragedy. Polar opposites yet yearning to mirror the other, envious, loathed, betrayed, these two women have an attraction and an unspoken past and secret.
Lee is manipulative, self absorbed, considering her childhood trauma you understand her questionable ways. You can’t help feeling for her, wounded deeply, there is a strong vulnerability about her allowing forgiveness of her affronts. Nora, incredibly strong, independent, courageous, envious to some degree but cautious and intelligent of the fractured woman Lee. You feel for both women but you are pulled in by Lee, she needs a little more of everything unlike Nora who is efficient in all ways. I kept asking myself, IF Lee hadn’t experienced her trauma what would she have been like given her unmistakable beauty, sadly we’ll never know the ‘what if’ only the ‘what was’.
A story with differing women and their quasi parallel stories and how they evolved, survived the ugliness of war and tragedy. A dichotomy displaying the brutality of war and small joys post war.
Mackin dives deep in the emotional depth of both characters and WWII. A captivating story of two fascinating women, surviving challenges. A lovely story.
As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris: when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever.
A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women. [provided by the author]
For reviewers’ attention: brief, very mild sex and violence
Praise for The Beautiful American
Readers will rank [it] right up there with The Paris Wife. A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas
Will transport you to expat Paris and from there take you on a journey through the complexities of a friendship breathes new life into such luminaries as Man Ray, Picasso, and, of course, the titular character, Lee Miller, while at the same time offering up a wonderfully human and sympathetic protagonist in Nora Tours. Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing. Sure to appeal to fans of Paula McLainís The Paris Wife and Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda, or indeed to anyone with a taste for impeccably researched and beautifully written historical fiction. Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France
Beautiful. A fascinating account of a little-known woman who was determined to play by her own rules. Historical Novel Society
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeanne Mackin is the author of several historical novels set in France,
and has earned awards for her journalism
as well as a creative writing fellowship
from the American Antiquarian Society.
She lives in upstate New York with her husband,
cats and herd of deer,
and is still trying to master the French subjunctive.
Visit her website.
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