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Publisher's Summary

Library Journal Editors' Pick

It's the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk. As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents to be in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest paid advertising woman in America - a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life - however shiny or sleazy - Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney 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.

©2016 Kathleen Rooney (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Between author Rooney's story and narrator Xe Sands's craftsmanship, this Walk will sweep listeners off their feet. Sands captures the essence of 80-year-old Lillian Boxfish, who is modeled after groundbreaking advertising icon Margaret Fishback, a former Macy's copywriter and poet.... Through Sands we feel the force of Lillian's personality - with all its drive, wit, and grace - as well as the counterforces that want to constrain it. A concluding interview explores why the performances of the most exemplary narrators are so seemingly effortless yet so compelling." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazingly well written

If you enjoy intelligent writing and stories you'll enjoy this book. It's not a thriller, yet the highly well-spoken heroine was thrilling to listen to. Every time she uttered the perfect comeback to a rude, jealous or unthoughtful person I found myself wishing I had that ability. Every time she engage with a stranger and brought out their essence, I was amazed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous story

Love how this book romanticized Manhattan in the early 20th century through the eyes of a woman whose mirror no longer reflects the youth her spirit beholds.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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performance excellence!

no performance , in any other book is better than this. As Lillian she kept me entralled with the story. very well done.. Recommend!!

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Lillian takes a stroll down memory lane!

The year is 1984, Manhattan, New Year's Eve. As the last hours of the year elapse, 85 year-old Lillian Boxfish takes a 10-mile walk around the city, and brings us right along with her. While she encounters old acquaintances and makes new ones, she reminisces on her life, past and present. Observing the dramatic changes that have taken place in the place she has called home for more than 50 years brings a certain level of nostalgia and sadness.

It wasn't until after I finished the novel that I realize that Kathleen Rooney's inspiration for this character was a real person. Like her fictional counterpart, Margaret Fishback was a poet and copywriter for R.H. Macys during the 1930's, becoming highly successful in both roles.

As she makes her way through the streets of the city, our protagonist recalls her best moments: the publication of her first book, meeting Max (the man she eventually marries), giving birth to her son. And her challenges: struggling to adjust to married life, going through a severe bout of depression, her painful divorce, losing her best friend.

Watching a character grow old is so interesting because it underlines the fact that getting older doesn't erase the essence of who we are. That's why for me, experiencing Lillian's zest for life, her sense of curiosity and sharp mind, and seeing how consistent those traits remained throughout her life, was so very refreshing.

Rooney's writing is witty and illuminating and I admire her ability to write a novel so intimate that at times it almost reads like a memoir. To me Lillian Boxfish belongs in the canon of characters representing a generation of women that were so ahead of their times they were feminist icons before that was even a thing.

I became a fan of Xe Sans listening to her narration of Euphoria and The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty. After you've been listening to audiobooks for a while, you can tell when a narrator has done her homework and has prepared well to perform a story rather that just "read" it. I think Sans’s evocative, sultry voice was the perfect match for this novel. The conversation between the author and the narrator at the end of the audio, was a unexpected but wonderful bonus!

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • carole
  • ORLAND PARK, IL, United States
  • 02-06-17

Loved it!

At first listen the narrator spoke too fast and not succinctly but as I was enthralled with Lillian I became accustomed to her voice and hung on her every word. The writing is brilliant, the character is someone I'd like to know and talk to. This story made me wish I could walk the streets of New York or some city equally interesting.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Solvitur Ambulando

A work of historical fiction with beautifully drawn characters, this is a book you'll want to listen to all at once. (I did, anyway.) There are so many delights, big and small, scenes of great poinancy depicted with great skill, charming characters. What a lovely introduction to three incredible talents: Kathleen Rooney, the author, Xe Sands, the narrator, and Margaret Fishback, the real woman on whom the protagonist is based. Take this walk; you won't regret it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Loved it

Captivating character with an authentic voice, both written and performed. Lillian is simply wonderful - complex, cynical, open hearted and open minded. Her journey through New York and through life is fascinating through her perspective and I'm so glad I picked up this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Best book so far this year - Best narrator

I really enjoyed this book....the narration was second to none. Really just a wonderfully written book. Thankful I found this one!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Gennette
  • SALEM, MA, United States
  • 02-04-17

Lovely

I found this book to be the perfect antidote to the stresses of the world today. It's lovely and compelling. The author writes from the heart creating a relatable, flawed, and very likable woman. Plus she used the phrase "The tribe of incorrigible brats" which I found so funny I wrote it down. I think I have a new name for my fictitious band.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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delightful stroll through new york

lillian boxfish is pure joy, and depicts a slice of new york through the 20th century that i will cherish for years to come. as a character she is singular and thought provoking and real. a wonderful book with exquisite writing and narration. i cannot recommend it highly enough.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful