She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for Macy's department store to become the highest paid advertising woman in the world.
Now it is the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp as ever, is on her way to a party. It's chilly enough for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier but the quick-tongued poet has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, shopkeepers, criminals, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed - and endured.
A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.
Based on the life of Margaret Fishback, a protofeminist and pioneering ad woman.
I just listened to this book courtesy of my library. I found it by chance as I was looking for something else on borrowbox. Intrigued I decided to listen to an excerpt and straightway knew it was going to be a book I loved. Xe Sands who narrates the book has the best American accent, so suited to the character and her fast talking just brought the witticisms alive.
Lillian recounts her life back from the age of 85 in 1984 as she walks the streets of New York on New Years Eve. We get to hear about her moving into a new apartment building just finished in 1926. Her glimpses from her office window of the newly erected Empire State Building and all the new names they have for her beloved areas and streets of New York. We also get a glimpse of the 1980s New York, when it was battling crime and people were scared on the streets - but not Lillian.
The book is just full of witticisms, early on we hear about Olive who Lillian thinks, why would someone name their child after a cocktail accompaniment, when it is empty and bitter. She's a fast talking lady and she's also an accomplished copywriter. So she decides she and others should be paid the same as her male counterparts and I'll leave you to read (or hear) how that ends. As was the way back then when she becomes pregnant she has to leave her beloved job, maybe this is what starts her life to go on a spiral. Later she is invited onto TV to talk about advertising, when a bright young thing tells her, things have changed since her day and advertising means so much more than it did. To her credit she ups and walks out of the interview, not without saying her piece in a clear and succinct manner.
Listening to the audio really brought the book alive as Lillian likes to talk to whomever she meets whether they be chauffeur, bartender or shopkeeper. In the main they are all charmed by her in one way or another as is the reader.
I'm really going to miss hearing Lillian's reminiscing.
I'm giving this audio version 5 out of 5 stars.