Author Jeanne Mackin
The Beautiful American
Release date: June 3, 2014
at New American Library/Penguin
Website | Goodreads
As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris: when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever.
A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women. [provided by the author]
Praise for The Beautiful American
“Readers will rank [it] right up there with The Paris Wife…. A brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece…”–New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas
“Will transport you to expat Paris… and from there take you on a journey through the complexities of a friendship…breathes new life into such luminaries as Man Ray, Picasso, and, of course, the titular character, Lee Miller, while at the same time offering up a wonderfully human and sympathetic protagonist in Nora Tours.”–Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
“Achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing… Sure to appeal to fans of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife and Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda, or indeed to anyone with a taste for impeccably researched and beautifully written historical fiction.”– Jennifer Robson, author of Somewhere in France
“Beautiful…A fascinating account of a little-known woman who was determined to play by her own rules.”–Historical Novel Society
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeanne Mackin is the author of several historical novels set in France,
and has earned awards for her journalism
as well as a creative writing fellowship
from the American Antiquarian Society.
She lives in upstate New York with her husband,
cats and herd of deer,
and is still trying to master the French subjunctive.
Visit her website.
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I Am, Indeed
An interesting concept for an historical story, using a fictional character to inform and build on the story of a true person.
Mackin does bring a sense of the hardships and flavor of the times for both characters, and gives plenty of room for thought. An interesting read for fans of historical fiction.
Chocolate & Croissants
Mackin has written a breathtakingly novel that vividly captures the lost generation. I found myself not wanting the story to end. If you like historical fiction and books set in France this one is for you.
Macarons & Paperbacks
If you are a fan of historical fiction that feels real and intense, The Beautiful American will no doubt be an enjoyable novel for you! You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to WWII era France even if you’ve never been to France before in your life :)
Loved how this story weaves the life of the model/photographer, Lee Miller, with historical events all told from the perspective of the fictional character, Nora. Reading about Lee’s background and of the events that shaped her left me in awe of this amazing woman.
Mackin dives deep in the emotional depth of both characters and WWII. A captivating story of two fascinating women, surviving challenges. A lovely story.
Diary of an Eccentric
Mackin’s writing is simply beautiful, and there’s a haunting quality to the prose as Nora recounts her friendship with Lee and the life she made for herself and Dahlia after Paris.
I was intrigued by both characters, finding things to like and dislike in both of them, but that’s what made them interesting. Mackin also brings 1920s Paris and post-war Grasse and London to life, and I easily lost myself in the story.
Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Reading this book helped me find out as well as experience the life hinted at in The Great Gatsby, the life of artists and heartbreaks and it also helped me learn why surrealism was so popular in that era and how fragile relationships are.
Although I’m sure that the characters of Nora, Dahlia, and few others are fictional, they remarkably felt real to me, and I have to say that the story answered a question I long harbored; there is no going back to the past, and its hard to restart from ground zero.
I thought Mackin did an excellent job historically. I felt I was in Paris during that time period, meeting everyone. She did not slack on the details. She did a great job describing the devastation of the War, as well.