“In my reckless and undiscouraged youth,” Lillian Boxfish writes, “I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street…”
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”
Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now—her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl—but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, 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 has not.
My Thoughts: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a delightful journey through the streets of Manhattan, reminding the reader of the times in which this character lived: 20th Century life with all of its quirks, just as Lillian relishes her own idiosyncrasies.
Lillian is the kind of character women might emulate, with her independent streak a mile wide, and her insistence on finding her way on her own a metaphorical “walk through the streets.” A perfect salute to a time long gone, I enjoyed how the walk offered the character an opportunity to reminisce about her life, from the 1930s to the momentous New Year’s Eve in 1984.
She looked back at her celebratory moments, but also those that revealed her vulnerabilities. When she suffered from a “breakdown” of sorts, and when she realized that, to some, she was no longer relevant, we could relate, as everyone has both good and bad to reflect on in a long life.
Despite her realizations, however, she is stalwart and determined to move forward on her own terms. She is definitely a character to root for…and her candid assessments of her life will make her a memorable one. Here’s to Lillian! Five stars.