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The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit. 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, persis The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit. 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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The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit. 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, persis The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit. 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.

30 review for Beauty and Attention: A Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    CL

    Libby’s story starts out in the 1950’s and after the death of her alcoholic father she feels liberated and decides to go to Ireland to visit family to escape the insistent marriage proposal from a man she does not know if she loves. She wants to find out who she really is and through these new relationships and decisions she will make along the way she may just discover that life is never as easy as it seems. Good read. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read th Libby’s story starts out in the 1950’s and after the death of her alcoholic father she feels liberated and decides to go to Ireland to visit family to escape the insistent marriage proposal from a man she does not know if she loves. She wants to find out who she really is and through these new relationships and decisions she will make along the way she may just discover that life is never as easy as it seems. Good read. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grace Troxel

    This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures: http://bookswithoutanypictures.com/20... Beauty and Attention by Liz Rosenberg is the story of a 1950s New York socialite who feels stifled by the options available to a respectable young lady in society. When Libby Archer is orphaned, she decides to leave New York to visit relatives abroad, even though she has a suitor at home. Libby wants freedom and adventure, and Ireland seems like a dream come true. Disclaimer: Beauty and This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures: http://bookswithoutanypictures.com/20... Beauty and Attention by Liz Rosenberg is the story of a 1950s New York socialite who feels stifled by the options available to a respectable young lady in society. When Libby Archer is orphaned, she decides to leave New York to visit relatives abroad, even though she has a suitor at home. Libby wants freedom and adventure, and Ireland seems like a dream come true. Disclaimer: Beauty and Attention is loosely based on A Portrait of a Lady, which is one piece of classic literature which I have not read. This likely colors my opinion of the story, and should be taken into account as you read this review. At its essence, Beauty and Attention is about two things: love, and choices. As Libby travels, she encounters several young men, and yet she keeps rejecting them because she’s a free spirit who doesn’t want to be tied down. And when Libby eventually succumbs to the social pressure to make a choice, she feels trapped by her decision, and finds herself cast in the very role she’s been trying to avoid. Reading this novel made me realize yet again how lucky I am to be alive today, in a time when women have far greater options in life, and whom (and even whether) we marry is not the choice that defines our destinies. I have so many feelings about this book. I loved the way the author described life abroad. It made me want to jump through the pages and into Europe. It’s when we progressed past the early part of the story and Libby started interacting with her suitors that things got a bit complicated. I admired Libby’s independent spirit, but pretty much her entire existence and storyline is defined by the men around her. I wanted to see more character depth, and to see Libby involved in adventures that didn’t involve her suitors. I’m not sure whether this novel would even pass the Bechdel test. That said, I was also empathetic towards her as she finds herself propelled by social forces beyond her control. And by the end of the story, Libby once again takes charge of her own fate. I found myself drawn to the minor characters far more than to Libby herself. I’m always happy to see LGBT characters mentioned in historical fiction, because way too often we fall into the trap of thinking that folks having non-heterosexual orientations is something new (spoiler: it’s not). All in all, I think I’d have appreciated Beauty and Attention a lot more if I’d have read Portrait of a Lady first. Even so, it was lovely glimpse into expat life in the 50s, and I’m happy to have read it. Many thanks again to TLC Book Tours for introducing me to so many great books outside my comfort zone!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keith Williams

    Let me first say, I am a long time fan of Liz Rosenberg's writing; poetry, biography, novels, all leave me satisfied that my time was well spent in her worlds full of beautiful description and smart dialogue. "Beauty and Attention" is no exception. As another reviewer pointed out this book is loosely based on plot points from "Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James. Moved into the 1950's U.S., Northern Ireland (where Rosenberg did a Fulbright), and Rome the settings are ripe for the contrasting setti Let me first say, I am a long time fan of Liz Rosenberg's writing; poetry, biography, novels, all leave me satisfied that my time was well spent in her worlds full of beautiful description and smart dialogue. "Beauty and Attention" is no exception. As another reviewer pointed out this book is loosely based on plot points from "Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James. Moved into the 1950's U.S., Northern Ireland (where Rosenberg did a Fulbright), and Rome the settings are ripe for the contrasting settings that support the changes in the heart of our heroine, Libby Archer. The book opens to the grey oppression of Rochester, NY (my home town) where Libby has forgone college to nurse her alcoholic father who has recently died when the story begins. She looks to get away and travels to the country outside of Belfast to visit with relatives of her mother the have moved there many years before. In this land of endless green, overgrown rhododendrons, and most importantly, her witty cousin and his father, she finds a home. Surrounded by love that she seems to feel she scarcely deserves, she finds solace among these kind people, if not the answers to her questions. On a trip to Rome Libby is dazzled by a man with wealth and taste, marries him, only to realize that there is neither love nor passion for the world inside this cold collector of things. This transpires quickly in the book and I even backtracked to make sure I'd not missed something. But upon rereading I realized that Rosenberg had captured the surreal quality of "how did I get here" we experience after making a catastrophically bad life decision. We look around and can't believe we've been so foolish. We spend the last section of the novel rooting for Libby to escape this poor choice in the same way we all hope to escape our own poor choices. I look forward to each of Rosenberg's novels. I don't miss any of them. Don't miss this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    In "Beauty and Attention," Libby is a young woman trying to make a decision that faced so many women during the 1950s. Things were much different then when women were basically expected to get married and have kids. If they did work a job, it was something like a secretary or another job that wasn't anything like what men were able to do. Libby rejects that idea and finds herself across the ocean in Belfast drawn to a world that she is only beginning to understand. Books like this make me so hap In "Beauty and Attention," Libby is a young woman trying to make a decision that faced so many women during the 1950s. Things were much different then when women were basically expected to get married and have kids. If they did work a job, it was something like a secretary or another job that wasn't anything like what men were able to do. Libby rejects that idea and finds herself across the ocean in Belfast drawn to a world that she is only beginning to understand. Books like this make me so happy that I have all of the choices that I have as a woman now. I appreciated that Libby was not content to simply do what society expected of her. She has that gumption in the very beginning of the book and it sticks through right until the end. I really liked seeing the world through her eyes where going off the path that everyone else seems to expect for her barely seems to faze her. This is a strong, independent woman that I really enjoyed following throughout the story. While I appreciated Libby's character and was drawn to her story, the writing of the book lost me a little bit. This is a relatively short book but there is so much telling rather than showing. In trying to introduce detail to the book, the narrative really gets bogged down and made this book feel like a bit of a slog in some parts. Overall, this was an interesting story that could have been edited more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Thank you GoodReads for giving me this enjoyable book. It gets 4 stars because it was a well written, engaging read. The characters were varied, interesting and well drawn and I either loved, disliked, got, or didn't get, each one of them, which, for me, is key in a good novel. The negative, for me, was the period, 1950's, was painted as too Victorian which it was definitely not, at least, not in the USA. Thank you GoodReads for giving me this enjoyable book. It gets 4 stars because it was a well written, engaging read. The characters were varied, interesting and well drawn and I either loved, disliked, got, or didn't get, each one of them, which, for me, is key in a good novel. The negative, for me, was the period, 1950's, was painted as too Victorian which it was definitely not, at least, not in the USA.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    Great read up to about 60% - I felt like the rest of the book wasn't even written by the same person. Libby's portrayal is weak. The only character I liked was Lazarus. I'll probably not read anything else written by the same author. Great read up to about 60% - I felt like the rest of the book wasn't even written by the same person. Libby's portrayal is weak. The only character I liked was Lazarus. I'll probably not read anything else written by the same author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)

    Beauty and Attention is smartly written with interesting characters and a look back at a fascinating time in world history. A loose remake of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, the story follows Libby Archer through grief and independence and self-discovery. This novel started out strong for me, the characters well-defined and the plot intriguing. I liked Libby and Henrietta (Henry) and their friendship, and great possibilities awaited Libby’s journey to Ireland to visit relatives. (I did not know Beauty and Attention is smartly written with interesting characters and a look back at a fascinating time in world history. A loose remake of Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady, the story follows Libby Archer through grief and independence and self-discovery. This novel started out strong for me, the characters well-defined and the plot intriguing. I liked Libby and Henrietta (Henry) and their friendship, and great possibilities awaited Libby’s journey to Ireland to visit relatives. (I did not know at the time that Beauty and Attention is an homage to Portrait of a Lady or I might have had different expectations.) However, as the novel continued – and Libby was on her own, away from Henrietta’s more vibrant personality – I found I didn’t quite see why everyone was so drawn to Libby. Other than her sweetness, she seems flat and weak. While she seemed independent at first, this either isn’t developed beyond people saying that she is … or she never really was in actuality. Perhaps this was intentional on the author’s part, but it didn’t endear me to Libby. And really, that’s an example of my main issue overall with Beauty and Attention – just when I began to enjoy a character or an aspect of the plot, the character disappeared or the plot shifted abruptly. Bottom Line: Overall, Beauty and Attention is a fine book. As an adaptation of Portrait of a Lady, it’s very good. It just didn’t hold my attention. But the beauty of literature is that what doesn’t appeal to me may very well be your favorite book. The author’s writing voice is engaging, and her ability to create setting is excellent. Reviewer’s Note: Readers should be aware that there is swearing in this book, though it is a minimal amount and not excessive. (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.) See my full review at Reading Is My SuperPower

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I won a free Kindle copy from a Goodreads Giveaway. A note from the author at the end of the book says she based the story on Henry James' classic Portrait of a Lady which I never read. That's probably a bad thing since I may have understood Beauty and Attention better. Libby Archer is an orphan after the death of her alcoholic father. She seems comfort and a change of a pace in Ireland at the home of distant relatives after turning down the love of a good man because she doesn't feel like she wou I won a free Kindle copy from a Goodreads Giveaway. A note from the author at the end of the book says she based the story on Henry James' classic Portrait of a Lady which I never read. That's probably a bad thing since I may have understood Beauty and Attention better. Libby Archer is an orphan after the death of her alcoholic father. She seems comfort and a change of a pace in Ireland at the home of distant relatives after turning down the love of a good man because she doesn't feel like she would ever marry. This, apparently, makes her a social misfit. After another catch of a man proposes to her, she, instead, marries a cold and distant widower with a child, Gilbert Osmond. Also, is it just me or are all her suitors sexist, pompous and brash? I'm just saying. Unfortunately, the readers are not given enough information as to why Libby decides to marry this douche. At least she admits to herself (and to us, the reader) that it was her mistake and her choice to make. There is a serious lack of characterization and exposition so potential interesting characters like Lord Warburton and the conniving Madame Merle are cardboard cutouts of the dashing English gentleman and the snotty two-faced bitch. There's a Lifetime twist in the end that you should see coming but I didn't, but in my defense, I wasn't paying attention because I was trying to finish the book as fast as I could. P.S. The way cousin Lazarus kept calling his father 'Daddy' just creeped me out.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC of "Beauty and Attention" by Liz Rosenberg. The author uses beautiful descriptions and vocabulary in the novel. In my opinion the main character is weak, easily manipulated,and has very poor self esteem. Libby has lost her father, and is not sure what she wants to do with her life. She is not educated, and doesn't want to marry which is what many ladies feel they have to do. She goes and visits family in Ireland to try and fin I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC of "Beauty and Attention" by Liz Rosenberg. The author uses beautiful descriptions and vocabulary in the novel. In my opinion the main character is weak, easily manipulated,and has very poor self esteem. Libby has lost her father, and is not sure what she wants to do with her life. She is not educated, and doesn't want to marry which is what many ladies feel they have to do. She goes and visits family in Ireland to try and find herself. Her family and friends would be a good support system if she allowed it. In trying to find herself,Libby meets with betrayal and deceitful characters. I feel that the author describes growth and trying to find love.

  10. 5 out of 5

    MetLineReader

    A little bit of a mixed bag for me but on balance it's a great retelling of a classic story. Some truly fabulous scenes, with some wonderful characters I would have liked more characterisation and development of the story line - think this only really scratched the surface and so much was left unsaid about Libby's choices. 3.75-4*, makes you think about choices, family ties and societal expectations. A little bit of a mixed bag for me but on balance it's a great retelling of a classic story. Some truly fabulous scenes, with some wonderful characters I would have liked more characterisation and development of the story line - think this only really scratched the surface and so much was left unsaid about Libby's choices. 3.75-4*, makes you think about choices, family ties and societal expectations.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    "Beauty and Attention" by Liz Rosenberg is a modernized re-imagining of Henry James' classic novel, "Portrait of a Lady." I felt that Rosenberg did an excellent job bring this story forward into the 1950s, wrote well rounded characters, interesting dialogue, all of which lead to a a satisfying reading experience. I would most certainly recommend this book to friends and fellow historical fiction devotees. 5 stars. "Beauty and Attention" by Liz Rosenberg is a modernized re-imagining of Henry James' classic novel, "Portrait of a Lady." I felt that Rosenberg did an excellent job bring this story forward into the 1950s, wrote well rounded characters, interesting dialogue, all of which lead to a a satisfying reading experience. I would most certainly recommend this book to friends and fellow historical fiction devotees. 5 stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Libby starts out as an innocent young woman, brought up by her father in Rochester, NY in the 1950's. Anxious to experience the world, Libby leaves home after her father's death to visit relatives in Ireland. An ill-fated meeting with a woman she sees as refined and worldly leads to some tragic choices. Well written with some twists. Libby starts out as an innocent young woman, brought up by her father in Rochester, NY in the 1950's. Anxious to experience the world, Libby leaves home after her father's death to visit relatives in Ireland. An ill-fated meeting with a woman she sees as refined and worldly leads to some tragic choices. Well written with some twists.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Hanscom

    A Fatal Flaw This could have been so good. However it revolves around tragic marriage. The reasons for the marriage are never explained. That whole part is left out. It's crucial. A Fatal Flaw This could have been so good. However it revolves around tragic marriage. The reasons for the marriage are never explained. That whole part is left out. It's crucial.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Probably 3.50 to 3.75 stars for me total--rounded up to 4 stars. I wanted more depth in the characters but I very much enjoyed the story and descriptions. This is the second book by Liz Rosenberg that I have read and reviewed. The first was her 2014 The Moonlight Palace. Like The Moonlight Palace, Beauty and Attention is a short and quick historical novel, with a young female main character looking to find her place in the world. In Beauty and Attention, we meet Libby Archer, in her early twenti Probably 3.50 to 3.75 stars for me total--rounded up to 4 stars. I wanted more depth in the characters but I very much enjoyed the story and descriptions. This is the second book by Liz Rosenberg that I have read and reviewed. The first was her 2014 The Moonlight Palace. Like The Moonlight Palace, Beauty and Attention is a short and quick historical novel, with a young female main character looking to find her place in the world. In Beauty and Attention, we meet Libby Archer, in her early twenties and a bit adrift since her alcoholic father has died--he never quite recovered from the death of her mother. Libby isn't sure what she wants to do--she just knows she isn't ready for marriage and settling down as most of her peers are doing in the the mid-1950s. Faced with a marriage proposal from inventor and entrepreneur Cap Lockwood, she instead travels to the Belfast estate of her uncle in Ireland, forming a fast friendship with her sickly cousin Lazarus and attracting the attention of an English Lord. As the synopsis says, there is a betrayal (I don't want to go into any detail and spoil the story), and Libby seeks to find herself and her happiness. Libby is a likable, if perhaps too mild of character--especially in the beginning of the book. Her logic and reasoning are hard to follow at times and I found myself struggling to get to know her. I far preferred her spunkier and more dimensional best friend Henry (Henrietta) who seemed to know her own mind much more than Libby. I think with the short length of the book, it was tough to form as strong of attachment to the characters as I would have liked. I would have enjoyed a deeper dig into Libby, Henry, Lazarus and Cap Lockwood, as well as some of the other characters that we meet later on. It was hard to determine the motives for behaviors and understand why Libby and others made the decisions they did. For example, there is a big plot point in the book that suddenly just happened and I wanted the back story of how we ended up there. The author notes in the afterward that the book is her homage to the Henry James classic, Portrait of a Lady, brought forward from the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Since I must confess to not ever reading Portrait of a Lady (although I just might now...), I can't judge how well she accomplished that goal. The settings--particularly Ireland and Rome, and Rosenberg's descriptive writing were beautiful and drew me into the story, I just wanted to stay there longer. I did like some of the twists--although I saw one of the main ones coming, and I liked seeing Libby's eventual growth and the ways things resolved, so ultimately I did enjoy the book and will definitely read more from Rosenberg. If you like a shorter book and enjoy historical fiction set in 1950s Europe, and/or have a fondness for Henry James and Portrait of a Lady, Beauty and Attention is an easy read and a pleasant diversion, just maybe a bit too quick to the finish. You can see my review and a recipe for Sundried Tomato Spread inspired by my reading on my blog post: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/20... Note: A review copy of "Beauty and Attention" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J. Roslyn

    It is 1954 in Rochester, New York, a city known for its cold winters, where summer sometimes comes early "and sometimes not at all." Libby Archer's father has just died and left her with a large Victorian-style house, no college education and a fierce desire to see the world and experience life. Pressured by her neighbors and friends to marry as soon as possible, the complex Libby yearns for more. In what she hopes is an escape to independence she flies to family in Ireland aboard an early trans It is 1954 in Rochester, New York, a city known for its cold winters, where summer sometimes comes early "and sometimes not at all." Libby Archer's father has just died and left her with a large Victorian-style house, no college education and a fierce desire to see the world and experience life. Pressured by her neighbors and friends to marry as soon as possible, the complex Libby yearns for more. In what she hopes is an escape to independence she flies to family in Ireland aboard an early transatlantic airplane. Liz Rosenberg captures the suffocating, parochial environment of Rochester in the 1950s, as well as Libby's disappointment at the stifling mores found in Ireland and Europe. Mores such as marriage, which "she drew away as instinctively as a bird that finds itself in a vast cage. The bars were there, no matter how much she might try to ignore them." Rosenberg writes in an afterword that "this novel is an homage to one of my favorite books: Henry James’s classic Portrait of a Lady, brought from the nineteenth century forward, with various changes, into the mid-twentieth." Is it ironic or sad that, seventy-five years after Henry James's Isabelle Archer fled upstate New York for the gossamer cages of Europe, Libby Archer also found herself entangled in that same web? Moreover, in 2016, sixty-years after Libby's flight, can we honestly assert that a version of this cage doesn't still exist? Beauty and Attention" is literature worth reading. Five stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Saylor

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I feel like I deserve a participation trophy for finishing this book. Not only is it boring but the main protagonist is so unlikeable yet you’re supposed to feel sorry for her. Her father leaves her destitute after drinking himself death. We are often told how beautiful she is in comparison to how ugly her sweet invalid adopted cousin is. In the first handful of chapters of the book she turns down two marriage purposals and her ugly cousin is clearly in love with her yet she makes it clear to ev I feel like I deserve a participation trophy for finishing this book. Not only is it boring but the main protagonist is so unlikeable yet you’re supposed to feel sorry for her. Her father leaves her destitute after drinking himself death. We are often told how beautiful she is in comparison to how ugly her sweet invalid adopted cousin is. In the first handful of chapters of the book she turns down two marriage purposals and her ugly cousin is clearly in love with her yet she makes it clear to every one she had no intentions of ever marrying. Because of this her ugly cousin asks his father, the protagonist’s dying uncle, to split his (ugly cousin’s) inheritance with her so that she might be able to live independly and educate herself. Then she meets a worldly woman in Paris who be friends her even though everyone tells her that she’s shady and not to be trusted. What does she do? Goes to Italy and marry’s the first broke bastard she meets. We have no idea why she married him because the writer doesn’t deem that important piece of information nesssisary for the audience to know. I guess she thought his 16 year old daughter (who he punishes by sending her to live at a convent) needed a mother. I’m sure that there are people who might like this book but to me...it was a waste of several hours of my life. While you might wonder why I finished the book it was because I had invested too much time in it and needed to see where this train derailed at.

  17. 4 out of 5

    G Oluseyi

    This book had me torn between two opinions. As a novel, it works fairly well; the story moves along at a fine pace, description is good, although to me Rosenburg never really seems to bring alive the spirit of the fifties. I never get a sense that Libby is oppressed or repressed by anyone but herself. Character motivations are unclear, and I never am really convinced that the protagonist, Libby, is worth all the attention she receives, both romantic and otherwise. Her suitors seem rather two-dim This book had me torn between two opinions. As a novel, it works fairly well; the story moves along at a fine pace, description is good, although to me Rosenburg never really seems to bring alive the spirit of the fifties. I never get a sense that Libby is oppressed or repressed by anyone but herself. Character motivations are unclear, and I never am really convinced that the protagonist, Libby, is worth all the attention she receives, both romantic and otherwise. Her suitors seem rather two-dimensional. However, it is an inoffensive and relatively engaging read. As an update of the Portrait of Lady, however, the book falls short, especially in the characterizations of Madame Merle and Gilbert Osmond, who are neither as terrifying or as intriguing as they are in James' original. Libby is not quite convincing as an ingenue, but she isn't in the original, either, so I'll permit that. Rosenberg does better with Lazarus as an update of Ralph Touchett and her modernized Warburton, who manage to maintain the essences of character that made them stand out in the original novel. Cap's update on Goodwood, however, seems like a hero in a melodrama, and not a particularly good one at that. However, it's worth a read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the first that I have read by Liz Rosenberg.There are plenty of reviews giving a synopsis of the book so I won't. I liked the authors writing style. The story is set in the 1950's and the writing reflected that nicely. The story, however, wasn't what I was expecting. The description (Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets) led me to believe that there would be more intrigue in the plot. Libby starts out a very independent woman. She doesn't want the I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the first that I have read by Liz Rosenberg.There are plenty of reviews giving a synopsis of the book so I won't. I liked the authors writing style. The story is set in the 1950's and the writing reflected that nicely. The story, however, wasn't what I was expecting. The description (Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets) led me to believe that there would be more intrigue in the plot. Libby starts out a very independent woman. She doesn't want the life that a woman in the time period is expected to lead. She wants the freedom to be herself, but then she inexplicably marries. She meets the man and the story jumps to her being married to him. How and why did this come about? If you lean toward this genre, then this might interest you. I just couldn't get into the story line.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lady Delacour

    Enjoyed spending time getting to know these characters. Thank you Cassandra for bringing another audiobook to life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heather Stevens

    This book was a little disappointing. I thought the storyline was slightly disjointed, and the ending was abrupt. At least it was only 211 pages so it was a fast read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Originally published at Reading Reality This is a difficult book to review. I finished it last night, and now that I’m done, I’m not exactly sure what happened. And that feels weird. The story takes place in the mid-1950s, at a time when women were supposed to marry young and become model wives and mothers. While a tiny number of careers were open to women – teacher, nurse and secretary – the ambition was to become a stay-at-home wife and mother. I’m so glad I wasn’t an adult then, because, well, t Originally published at Reading Reality This is a difficult book to review. I finished it last night, and now that I’m done, I’m not exactly sure what happened. And that feels weird. The story takes place in the mid-1950s, at a time when women were supposed to marry young and become model wives and mothers. While a tiny number of careers were open to women – teacher, nurse and secretary – the ambition was to become a stay-at-home wife and mother. I’m so glad I wasn’t an adult then, because, well, that is so not anything I would have wanted. And it isn’t what Libby Archer wants, either. Not that she is actually sure what she does want in her early 20s, but that just makes her normal in our 21st century eyes. It does give her contemporaries a great deal of pause, however. The man who loves her is just certain that she should marry him, right now. And he places way too much pressure on someone who finally has a chance to spread her wings, so she runs. Libby’s alcoholic father has just died. And after years of tip-toeing around his cold withdrawals and drunken rages, after years of suppressing her every desire and ambition to care for him in his decline (as good daughters were supposed to do) she wants to discover who she really is before she becomes a part of somebody else. So she goes to Ireland to visit her aunt and uncle and cousin. These are people that she remembers fondly from her childhood, before her mother died and her father started drinking himself to death. Uncle Sacks is her mother’s brother, and it was easy for her dad to drop the connection. Libby picks it back up again. She finds a second home with her aunt and uncle, and a fast friend in her dying cousin, ironically named Lazarus. Whatever is killing Lazarus, which is real but ill-defined, he will not be rising from the dead. She finds strength as part of their rather eclectic household, but she is still drifting inside herself. When her uncle dies, the household scatters to the winds, and Libby finds herself drifting again, but this time, drifting into all the bad decisions that her friends back home warned her about. It is only at the side of her cousin’s deathbed that she begins to pick up the reins of her own life. Where those reins lead her is left to the reader’s imagination at the end of the book. Escape Rating B-: I liked the first part of the story very much. Libby is a bit lost and uncertain, and so she should be. She’s free of her father’s domination, and feels both exhilarated and guilty at the same time. After years of being forced to deal with her father’s “illness” she wants the freedom to explore herself, and everyone else’s very forceful good intentions just feel like an attempt to put her in a different cage. Only because they are. Libby’s life in her uncle’s house, and the story of her deep friendship with Lazarus, are bittersweet. It is a safe harbor that is doomed to end, but still surprises Libby when that end comes. One of the fascinating things about Libby is that she is so much of a blank slate. She is bright, naive and innocent and has a desperate need to please. Several men fall in love with her, not necessarily for who she actually is, but what they think they can make of her. And she is easily manipulated and led. Which is what happens. Someone she thinks is a friend seems to maneuver her into the terrible marriage that everyone back home feared for her. But one of the faults of the book as that we don’t see it happen. One page, she’s just meeting the future Mr. Awful for the first time. The next page, she’s married and obviously miserable. That missing link took the heart out of the story for this reader. In the end, the reader is left with the impression that Libby has finally seized her life in her own hands, but there are fits and starts even to that. Her independence is not assured, merely seems to be in the offing. And the equivocation of the ending left this reader a bit bereft. I hope that Libby finally rescued herself. But I wish I knew.

  22. 5 out of 5

    E

    This is a story about a woman, Libby Archer, struggling with everyone else’s expectations of her, about deceit and lies, love and disappointment and finally finding her courage to change things. My favorite characters are Lazarus and Henrietta Capone; friends that challenge Libby and help her in some respects find her way. Lazarus is quirky, handsome, vulnerable, and has a deep love of family and friends. Henrietta (Henry) was almost the complete opposite of her friend Libby; she challenges Libb This is a story about a woman, Libby Archer, struggling with everyone else’s expectations of her, about deceit and lies, love and disappointment and finally finding her courage to change things. My favorite characters are Lazarus and Henrietta Capone; friends that challenge Libby and help her in some respects find her way. Lazarus is quirky, handsome, vulnerable, and has a deep love of family and friends. Henrietta (Henry) was almost the complete opposite of her friend Libby; she challenges Libby and helps her out of her rut. I could picture in my mind’s eye the characters depicted, but alas I could not totally relate to them. Maybe that’s a good thing because I found myself wanting to know more about each of them, how they interacted with each other and how they handled the situations they encountered. I would have like to have seen more dialogue between the characters showing their feelings, however I did enjoy the picturesque scenes created by the author which created a great backdrop for the characters to play in. My favorite part of the book is when the protagonist Libby comes into her own, finds out what she wants out of life takes control and decides what is best for her and her step-daughter. I did feel however the story ended too soon. I so wanted to know what happened after Libby and her step-daughter Viola left the convent. I won this e-book at Goodreads.com

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Roesel

    I knew I was going to enjoy BEAUTY and ATTENTION (Lake Union Publishing) before I even started reading the novel. I looked in the author’s notes and read that Pulitzer Prize nominee, Liz Rosenberg lives in Binghampton, New York with her daughter Lily and shih tzu, Sophie. Being a fellow shih tzu owner, mine is named Sassy, we share a certain sensibility, and that immediately peaked my interest. BEAUTY and ATTENTION is the riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a w I knew I was going to enjoy BEAUTY and ATTENTION (Lake Union Publishing) before I even started reading the novel. I looked in the author’s notes and read that Pulitzer Prize nominee, Liz Rosenberg lives in Binghampton, New York with her daughter Lily and shih tzu, Sophie. Being a fellow shih tzu owner, mine is named Sassy, we share a certain sensibility, and that immediately peaked my interest. BEAUTY and ATTENTION is the riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit. It’s the mid-1950’s in middle class Rochester, New York. Libby Archer’s father has passed away from alcoholism leaving her with no parents, a bunch of friends and well-meaning busy-buddies telling her that she must do what any sensible young woman would do – settle down and get married. For Libby, a ready, willing and able suitor is available in the person of Caspar Lockwood, a handsome, successful young man she has grown up, knowing he wants to marry her. But Libby cannot bring herself to accept his marriage proposals and plans to delay marriage to Cap or anyone else by departing for her Uncle’s estate in Ireland. After watching her parents fight for much of their marriage and being kept home to perform as a health care worker for her father, Libby is ready to experience her independence. In Ireland Libby finds comfort with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus. He understands his cousin, sees her frailties and understands how she lives to help others. He tries to protect her, but they have a falling out. In Rochester she was isolated and protected, but in Europe, she’s vulnerable and falls victim to those willing to take advantage of her. I found it difficult to read at times, as Libby made choices that ultimately hurt her. Libby’s journey towards independence is unpredictable filled with landmines, but she draws on all of her courage and strength from an undiscovered source within. Liz creates well-developed characters and I loved reading about the various Irish, Parisian and Roman landscapes in BEAUTY and ATTENTION. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised and pleased. The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravity and The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Waheed Rabbani

    In 1954 Rochester, New York, Libby Archer, whose parents have both died, is sorting through items in her home with her friend Henrietta. Most of Libby’s well-meaning friends, and her suitor, Casper, expect she will now marry. Instead, Libby decides to take an extended visit to her wealthy aunt and uncle’s country estate, Gardencourt, in Ireland. There Libby is entertained and charmed by her invalid cousin, Lazarus, as well as his friend Lord Warburton. Although Lord Warburton proposes to Libby, In 1954 Rochester, New York, Libby Archer, whose parents have both died, is sorting through items in her home with her friend Henrietta. Most of Libby’s well-meaning friends, and her suitor, Casper, expect she will now marry. Instead, Libby decides to take an extended visit to her wealthy aunt and uncle’s country estate, Gardencourt, in Ireland. There Libby is entertained and charmed by her invalid cousin, Lazarus, as well as his friend Lord Warburton. Although Lord Warburton proposes to Libby, she turns him down, favoring a trip to the Continent with her aunt. In Paris, she meets another socialite, Madame Merle. Libby’s terminally ill uncle dies shortly after but mysteriously bequeaths Libby a large fortune. In Rome, Madame Merle introduces Libby—now a rich lady—to a struggling artist, Gilbert Osmond. He is a widower with a young daughter. Libby’s independence takes a turn, but not in the direction she wishes. She has to struggle out of the devious bonds that entangle her. As acknowledged in the author’s note, many readers will recognize that this story is based on Henry James’s classic The Portrait of a Lady, from the plot and similarity of characters’ names. Rosenberg has closely followed James’s writing style, including his refined prose and use of ellipses. Although James had captured the norms of 1860s Victorian society, the transporting of some of these to this novel’s setting of the 1950s seems odd, such as when Libby’s aunt doesn’t permit her to socialize in the drawing room in the late evenings with Lord Warburton and even her cousin Lazarus present. Nevertheless, the perils to women are still real today. An enjoyable read even for those unfamiliar with James’s novel. This review first appeared in the Historical Novels Review Issue 79 (February 2017)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Care

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. LIbby Archer is an American who, upon the death of her long-ill father, travels to Northern Ireland to spend time with her uncle and her sickly cousin Lazarus. She develops a deep bond with him and comes under the tutelage of Madame Merle, an older socialite. Set during the era of McCarthyism, Beauty and Attention is a story of Libby's journey towards independence and what that really means for a woman in the mid-1950s. It details her trials through betrayal, loss, and love. Libby is developed as LIbby Archer is an American who, upon the death of her long-ill father, travels to Northern Ireland to spend time with her uncle and her sickly cousin Lazarus. She develops a deep bond with him and comes under the tutelage of Madame Merle, an older socialite. Set during the era of McCarthyism, Beauty and Attention is a story of Libby's journey towards independence and what that really means for a woman in the mid-1950s. It details her trials through betrayal, loss, and love. Libby is developed as a complex, multi-faceted protagonist who constantly feels the urge to look for something more, to find something more that she cannot always quite articulate. She is at once determined and conflicted, strong and weak, and she is relatable in her quest for independence and freedom, even though she does not quite know what form that should take. Her bond with her cousin that develops is beautifully articulated, and everyone should wish for a friend like Henrietta, stalwart and opinionated in her defense of her friend. The book is beautifully written with prose that flows and glittery descriptions. However, I find the plot somewhat lacking. The troubles that Libby walks into are readily apparent even earlier on, and this leads to frustration with the choices she makes. Liz Rosenberg writes in details even in Libby's earlier encounters with some characters that make it obvious they are not to be trusted and that the situation will not turn out well. The plot is rushed towards the end, and a huge chunk of time is skipped over. While the world the book describes is captivating and beautiful, the plot line drags down the beautiful prose. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Just Commonly

    Loosely based on Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, Liz Rosenberg's Beauty and Attention does get the readers attention. I see the parallels, but one shouldn't compare the two. The story itself moves fairly quickly, yet there are parts where it's fairly disjointed, which comes into play with some stilted dialogues as well. I can see the intrigue of this story about a young woman struggling to find her place in the world, independently and valiantly. The setting of the 1950s doesn't seem to pla Loosely based on Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, Liz Rosenberg's Beauty and Attention does get the readers attention. I see the parallels, but one shouldn't compare the two. The story itself moves fairly quickly, yet there are parts where it's fairly disjointed, which comes into play with some stilted dialogues as well. I can see the intrigue of this story about a young woman struggling to find her place in the world, independently and valiantly. The setting of the 1950s doesn't seem to play a huge factor, or rather I wasn't able to immerse myself in the timeline. Libby should be the type of character I love, yet she falls short, mainly because there's nothing about her that stands out to the reason why the attention. And maybe it was intentional to give readers the idea that a person doesn't need to possess undeniable attraction to garner interest by others, be it romantically or otherwise. Other characters? Doesn't even stand out, including the cruel Osmond or the eccentric Henry. Despite all that, I was still able to finish this in one sitting and find the plot interesting enough. For my clean readers, there are some profanity but not excessive. This review first appeared on Just Commonly blog. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heathery

    I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I found this book to be difficult to get through--not because it was bad, no, I quite enjoyed it--but because it was so very sad. It reminded me of another book called Kurinji Flowers. (So if you liked this one, you might check out that one.) Some reviewers are angry about Libby's marriage choice. To me, I am not angry, but rather disappointed in her. In the beginning, I quite identified with Libby. As an aromantic (someone who does not fe I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I found this book to be difficult to get through--not because it was bad, no, I quite enjoyed it--but because it was so very sad. It reminded me of another book called Kurinji Flowers. (So if you liked this one, you might check out that one.) Some reviewers are angry about Libby's marriage choice. To me, I am not angry, but rather disappointed in her. In the beginning, I quite identified with Libby. As an aromantic (someone who does not feel emotional attraction to any sex/gender), I am used to fending off date requests and people's expectations of why I have no interest in dating and marriage. Libby was going through the same thing. She turned down two marriage proposals because she wanted to explore the world and be her own independent person. I related to her. However, around the 75% mark when the marriage bombshell is dropped, we readers were left flabbergasted at the very nerve of its occurrence. At the end of one chapter, she is meeting her husband-to-be. At the beginning of the VERY NEXT chapter, she is already married to him. We have received absolutely no backstory to their relationship. Later on, Libby expresses anger in herself for her choice, but we never even got to see that choice in action. I felt it a very weak spot on the author's part in an otherwise well-written novel. In the end, I'm left feeling bleak about the whole book. Despite that, it was still a good read, and I'm glad to have read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Guy

    This book made me think of the Masterpiece Series on PBS. Its a shame it wasn't a little longer because I really could see it, maybe as a one of thing. I didn't realize that it was a retelling of Henry James' Portrait of A Lady until I had finished it. (Not that I ever would have known because I'm not a reader of the classics, no matter how much I try) Libby is young woman in the 50's who finds herself alone after the death of her father. I'm not sure why they used the term orphaned, since Libby w This book made me think of the Masterpiece Series on PBS. Its a shame it wasn't a little longer because I really could see it, maybe as a one of thing. I didn't realize that it was a retelling of Henry James' Portrait of A Lady until I had finished it. (Not that I ever would have known because I'm not a reader of the classics, no matter how much I try) Libby is young woman in the 50's who finds herself alone after the death of her father. I'm not sure why they used the term orphaned, since Libby was an adult. She wants to find herself, so to speak, before doing what was expected of her, though I have to say, I felt bad for Casper. I kind of felt she treated him rather poorly. However, I think had I been in her place, I would have wanted to see something of the world before settling down, and not many women in the 50s would have a chance to stay with family in Europe. Because of the length of the novel (just a little over 200 pages) I felt that the characters could have been developed a bit more. The only character I found that had spunk was Libby's friend Henrietta. This was a dramatic book, but the events in Libby's life got separated and seemed disconnected at times...You'd jump from one part of her life and then suddenly you'd be months ahead. This was an enjoyable read, but I found myself wishing it were a little bit longer so that you could fill in the gaps.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This novel started of well but did not really suit my taste. The main character was well-developed and Independent at the start but then the author did not really follow through and in the second part of the novel a lot of development is just implied or plainly rushed. Except for the English love interest all of Libby's potential suitors are pushy, rude, and sexist and I have no idea why Libby gave them the time of day or why I am supposed to find the ending romantic and inevitable. The supporti This novel started of well but did not really suit my taste. The main character was well-developed and Independent at the start but then the author did not really follow through and in the second part of the novel a lot of development is just implied or plainly rushed. Except for the English love interest all of Libby's potential suitors are pushy, rude, and sexist and I have no idea why Libby gave them the time of day or why I am supposed to find the ending romantic and inevitable. The supporting cast does not really have any development with Libby's friend Henry and her cousin Lazarus disappearing for large parts of the novel after either trying to force their opinion on Libby or promising to help her find a way just to disappear quickly after that. The only saving grace of this novel is Ms Rosenberg's excellent style of writing which sucks you in and makes the world she describes come alive.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)

    Libby is now an orphan with the recent loss of her father. She decides to reunite with family that she hasn't seen in a very long time in Ireland and escape Rochester, New York for the unforeseen future. For me this book just didn't have enough. I think I had wished that the "outside" world had interfered with the characters. Being a semi historical fiction book, I wanted more history and felt that there were only glimpses of the 1950s and how the characters fit into that time. I felt as though Libby is now an orphan with the recent loss of her father. She decides to reunite with family that she hasn't seen in a very long time in Ireland and escape Rochester, New York for the unforeseen future. For me this book just didn't have enough. I think I had wished that the "outside" world had interfered with the characters. Being a semi historical fiction book, I wanted more history and felt that there were only glimpses of the 1950s and how the characters fit into that time. I felt as though this book could have taken place anywhere and at anytime, it just didn't stick out for me. Because I read so much historical fiction this one had to live up to a long list of good ones and I have a high bar at this point for this genre. I am still intrigued to read Liz Rosenberg's other books, this one for me just didn't do it. I own The Moonlight Palace and may read that soon to see if I can become a Liz Rosenberg fan.

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