Wednesday, September 23, 2015

HFVBT Review: The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

Title: The Beautiful American
Author: Jeanne Mackin
Format: Paperback
Publisher: NAL
Publish Date: June 3, 2014
Source: HFVBT

What's the Story?:

From "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 sixteen-year-old 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 1920s 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. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?"

My Two Cents:

 "The Beautiful American" is the story of Nora, an American girl that follows her sweetheart overseas to Paris during the Roaring 20s. It's there that she meets up with her childhood friend, Lee Miller. Before reading this book I had heard of Lee Miller but I didn't really know too much about her. Lee Miller is a female photographer and model who worked with the likes of Man Ray and Pablo Picasso. She did a lot of surrealist photography and was a larger-than-life character. She is a secondary character is this book.

What's interesting about this book is that Nora, the main character, is a fictional character but she interacts with many different real-life historical figures. Nora becomes a vehicle to tell the stories of Weymiller and some of man Ray and Pablo Picasso. Nora is an interesting character but the artists are more interesting. I kept finding myself wanting to get back to Lee, who is such a huge figure in this book. She is definitely an interesting second character character and I found my self drawn more to her than to Nora.

The pacing of this book threw me off a little. I know that the author can't include every single detail but the timeline in this book felt a little disjointed. The author starts out with our characters in 1920s Paris, which was a haven for artist and other creative types at the time. I loved reading about the city at this time; it seems very interesting to me. The other big chunk of the book covers after World War II. The author made the decision not to cover very much at all as to what happens to the characters during World War II. The characters are mainly in Paris and other areas around France so conceivably the war would've affected them. However, we never really see what happens to them. It made me feel like I was missing a big chunk of understanding the characters a little bit more as they went through such a big event like World War II. That definitely took me out of the book a little bit.

Overall, the writing of the book kept me entertained and I really did love learning more about Lee Miller. I did wish that the narrative was a little bit more evenly spread between the big events of the book. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future!

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Monday, September 21
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 22
Interview at Please Pass the Books
Wednesday, Spetember 23
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 24
Review at History Undressed
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, September 25
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Interview at History Undressed
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Sunday, September 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, September 28
Review at I’m Shelf-ish
Guest Post at To Read, or Not to Read
Tuesday, September 29
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Wednesday, September 30
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Spotlight at View From the Birdhouse
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, October 1
Review at Dive Under the Cover
Interview at The Old Shelter
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Friday, October 2
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at Singing Librarian Books
Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation


  1. The Beautiful American has a very interesting mesh of characters and sounds like an entertaining read. Nice review!

  2. I'm going to look out for this one. Thanks! Cheers from cArole's chatter


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