Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

Fallen Beauty
By:  Erika Robuck
Published:  March 4, 2014
Publisher:  Berkley Romance
Source:  Publisher

GR's Summary:

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.


Praise for Fallen Beauty:

"Robuck's winning mix of imaginative storytelling and historical research makes for a gripping tale." --J. Courtney Sullivan, NY Times Bestselling author of THE ENGAGEMENTS

"This finely tuned, lyrical novel is Robuck's strongest work to date, and destined to become an American classic." --Simon Van Booy, Bestselling author of THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS 

“Erika Robuck brings the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay to life in all her beauty and insatiability. This is an electrifying read, one that crackles with passion on every page. ” --Alyson Richman, Bestselling author of THE LOST WIFE 

“FALLEN BEAUTY shows us the scandalous and deeply fascinating life of one of the most mysterious writers in our history...Will be a dream to hand sell. This one is a book club magnet!” --Jean Lewis, Barnes & Noble Bookseller

"Erika Robuck does a remarkable job capturing Edna St. Vincent Millay's tortured brilliance while entwining Millay's life with that of Laura Kelley, a beautiful young seamstress who makes an irreparable mistake. Fallen Beauty is an enchanting novel of small town living, of old secrets and new passions, and the love and friendships we find where we least expect them." --Liberty Hardy, Independent Bookseller at River Run in NH

“[Robuck] captures the raw humanity and spirit of womankind, our fierce need to protect our families while striving to be true to ourselves and the awful grace that carries us through. Erika’s stories only get better and I can’t wait to put this into the hands of many readers. It will certainly grace the shelves of FoxTale’s Rockin’ Strong Women section!” --Karen Schwettman, FoxTale Book Shoppe

My Take on this Journey:

Fallen Beauty, by Erika Robuck, is a wildly insatiable novel that interweaves the worlds of the poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Laura Kelley, an average woman with remarkable talents and a reputation that has be-smudged it in the narrow minded small town in which she resides.  Edna has a reputation for being wild and throwing illicit parties. Not only is she ahead of her time with one affair after another,  which she uses to fuel her next book, but the forces that drive her are used at the cost of everyone around her, including her sometimes indulgent and dutiful husband.

The novel is one filled with historical fiction and prose so lyrical that they fly off the pages.  Ms. Robuck has captured the Jazz Age, ideals of the time, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, the Follies, the life and times of that generation, and all the hiding and sneaking around that occurred during those wild days. The prose are passionate and grab the reader into a seductive embrace and the dance begins.  

Laura is a young girl of 18, with a boyfriend that she thinks she will be with forever.  He convinces her to sneak out for one night filled with stars, Fashion, glamour, the Ziegfeld Follies, and a night of passion she will never forget. She sneaks out, knowing that her father will be doomed by her behavior if she gets caught, and throws caution to the wind.  Ms. Robuck captures the elegance of the times, the beauty of the women, the gentlemen beside them, and the extravagance of hypnotic power that never existed like that again. 

Edna feels she has lost her touch, and is in the last chapters of her tortured life, if she cannot find a new interest to qualm the flames.  She feels she is losing her touch and wants to reach out to her old lovers, men and women, and invite them to a soiree.  She realizes that it is not enough, so with the encouragement of her beloved husband, she searches for a new love interest to serve her needs.  She is a woman of many faces, contradictions, and moods.  Clearly, the famous writer, was a woman before her time, and with much of the male embossed free love attitude.  Edna looks to each season to see what it will bring forth to her appetite, and reflect in her next piece of finished art.

Laura's path intertwines with Edna's.  Both considered fallen women of their times.  This was a scandalizing novel of adultery, gripping from the first page, a masterpiece of literature, brought to the forefront by Ms. Robuck, in an unforgettable journey, capturing the essence of the times, that is seamless.  We get memorable characters, love, loss, small minded towns people with outrageous scenarios.  I give, Fallen Beauty, by Erika Robuck, 5 Scandalous, Rage Filled, Passionate, Penetrating, Memorable, Poetic Stars!!!

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About Erika Robuck:

Erika Robuck self-published her first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING. Her novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL (NAL/Penguin), was a Target Emerging Author Pick, a Vero Beach Bestseller, and has sold in two foreign markets to date. CALL ME ZELDA (NAL/Penguin) made the Southern Independent Booksellers Bestseller list, and is a Target Recommended Read. FALLEN BEAUTY was released on March 4th, and she is a contributor to GRAND CENTRAL (June 2014, Berkley/Penguin), a short story anthology set at Grand Central Terminal in New York, following World War II.

Erika writes about and reviews historical fiction at her blog, Muse, and is a contributor to fiction blog, Writer Unboxed. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, Hemingway Society, and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society.


  1. I love historical romances and I love memorable prose and characters even more. I'm so happy to hear that this book features all of these elements. I am very intrigued by its premise and I cannot wait to meet Edna and Laura and see how both their characters develop throughout the story. Glad you enjoyed this, Ro! Wonderful review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  2. Lyrical? Wow that sounds good.


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