Book Review: Beauty and Attention

Friday, November 18, 2016

Beauty and Attention by Liz Rosenberg

From the publisher: For misfit Libby Archer, social expectations for young women in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s don’t work. Her father has died, leaving her without parents, and her well-meaning friends are pressuring her to do what any sensible single girl must do: marry a passionate, persistent hometown suitor with a promising future. Yet Libby boldly defies conventional wisdom and plans to delay marriage—to anyone—by departing for her uncle’s Belfast estate. In Ireland, Libby seeks not only the comfort of family but also greater opportunities than seem possible during the stifling McCarthy era at home.

Across the Atlantic, Libby finds common ground with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus, then puts her trust in a sophisticated older woman who seems to be everything she hopes to become. Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets, as well as sudden wealth and unexpected love, Libby’s journey toward independence takes turns she never could have predicted—and calls on courage and strength she never knew she had.

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This is an immensely charming and nostalgic little book. There isn't too much to the story, as it is quite short , but it truly captures a little slice of history and life in just 200 pages. This is a work of historical fiction, with many elements of romance, family drama, friendship, travel, and discovering independence. 

I was frequently impressed by the character of Libby, who manages to be ahead of her time, well-rounded, and well-developed. Some of the other character development felt a bit rushed, but I did enjoy most of the characters (with a few obvious exceptions). They were complex--sometimes likable and sometimes unlikable--and also seemed to fit the time period of the novel well. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book set in the 50s, a time period I feel like I've read about very rarely. As someone who often dreams of living in the past, the vintage, nostalgic feel of this book was refreshing and captivating. 

The travel aspects were also lovely to read. Ireland has topped the list of places I want to visit for a long time now, so I'm always game to read a book set in an Irish mansion. Libby's journey toward fulfillment while traveling Europe was not only enchanting, but inspiring. She consistently defies the expectations of her era and blatantly explains her desires. I would have been very content with even more of this. Even when she makes choices I wouldn't, she is very aware of her own circumstances and ultimately builds a life that fits her desires. 

My limited complaints with this book mainly only have to do with the pacing. I felt somewhat disconnected from the book at times, particularly toward the beginning. There were often large jumps in time; suddenly in the span of a page, several months had passed with no clear indicators or transition. I also sometimes had a hard time connecting to the dialogue. These were small annoyances that for most part were overshadowed by my enjoyment of other aspects of the novel.

All in all, this is a book I'd recommend to fans of historical fiction, self-empowerment, drama and romance. The second half in particular is gripping and not at all what I originally expected. In general, this book is ethereal and reminiscent and very very charming. 

Book links for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.

I received this book for review through TLC Book Tours! Check out the rest of the tour here!

1 comment:

  1. "It's ethereal and reminiscent and very very charming." Now THAT really makes me want to pick this book up right away!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.