Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish doesn’t want to welcome 1985 sitting down so she gets up and out and takes a walk through her beloved city. New York City isn’t the same as it was when Lillian was an advertising sensation at R.H. Macy’s but she still loves it and all the colorful people she meets. Lillian herself is quite colorful with her fiery orange lipstick, mink coat and blue hat. It’s hard to forget that she is 85 years young. New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and as Lillian goes about her ten mile loops of the city, starting and ending at her home in Murray Hill, you see the city as it was and as it is through the memory and view of this extraordinary lady.

Lillian is based on a real force in advertising, Margaret Fishback, and the poet in both the historical and fictional character comes through in the writing on each page. There is a preciseness to the speech because Lillian is quite precise by nature.She is a woman that loves her career but is forced to abandon her first love for her second: her family, a husband and son. She is a woman out of time who would have thrived in our current world, but was forced to fit in to a different one where pregnant women were forced out of the workplace to raise their families.  She seems prickly but she is driven and she is curious. This woman genuinely likes people and will strike up a conversation with anyone she meets. She is a complex woman, and not a perfect one, but she is a straight talker and it’s a pleasure to see the city in its glory and seediness through her eyes and words.