Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
Embarking on a walk across the unsafe landscape of Manhattan on New Year's Eve in 1984, 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish recalls her long and eventful life, which included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America, whose career was cut short by marriage and loss. By the author of O, Democracy!

McMillan Palgrave


“Transporting…witty, poignant and sparkling.”
People (People Picks Book of the Week)

“Prescient and quick....A perfect fusing of subject and writer, idea and ideal.”
Chicago Tribune

“Extraordinary…hilarious…Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time—and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)

"Rooney's delectably theatrical fictionalization is laced with strands of tart poetry and emulates the dark sparkle of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Truman Capote. Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart, Rooney’s nimble novel celebrates insouciance, creativity, chance, and valor."
Booklist (starred review)

“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.

A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, 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.

Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.

Publisher: St Martins Press,, 2017
ISBN: 9781250113337
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 08, 2017

Borrowed this book for my wife. She loved it. One day, I'll read it too. I expect I will also love it.

samdog123 Oct 31, 2017

Lillian is the most wonderful female character that I've encountered in quite some time. Lillian, now 84, reminisces about her life during a long walk through New York city on New Year's eve, 1984. Born just before the turn of 1900, , she was the top female advertising woman for Macy's, quite a feat in those days. I love Lillian's spirit, intelligence, and her understanding of herself-where she's been and how far she's come. I treasure that I got to know her while I read the book and won't soon forget her.

Oct 02, 2017

A well-written and very enjoyable book. Lillian takes the reader on a long walk through the streets of New York City on New Year's eve (1984). As she walks, she shares the humour, happiness and some of the sadness of her life as a career "girl" in the 1930s, a published poet, someone who fell unexpectedly but totally in love (love at first sight) twice in her life (with the man who became her husband (who would have thought one could be hit by lightening while indoors), and with her new born son) -- the husband didn't last, but the son did -- and someone who feels that New York City is still her home (at the age of 84). But just a warning, some of the low points in her long life were very low indeed.

Aug 25, 2017

Octogenarian Lillian takes a walk in NYC on New Year’s Eve 1984. Ode to a city, ode to a well-lived life, ode to humor, pep, fun and laughter. Loved it.

Jul 10, 2017

Good to hear the story of the pioneer women in advertising. A lovely romp, intelligent writing inspired by a gifted copywriter. Glad I found this book.

May 30, 2017

I truly loved this story. Lillian opens herself up to the world and doesn't seem to care what you think. She is what she is and it's a wonderful blend of complex opinions and feelings. Lillian's voice reminded me of a grandmother or elderly friend who simply hoped to entertain your attention and share their perspective. While set in the 1980s, I felt many of Lillian's observations about people and finding the humor in the absurd were still great lessons for today.

ehbooklover May 08, 2017

4.5 stars. Within 15 pages of this book, I was already in love with Lillian Boxfish. I just loved traveling through 1980s New York City alongside this unique, complicated, spunky, and absolutely wonderful character while she reminisced about her life and experiences. And I was delighted to learn that Lillian is actually based on a real woman! An enchanting and captivating read.

Apr 17, 2017

I am in the middle re: this book. While there is some terrific writing, the story goes on far too long. It is hard to develop empathy with the main character as her quirky personality seems at times lovable and at other times simple unbelievable.

I think the structure of the walk as a device to hold this story together does not entirely work. It becomes an academic device that has to be held onto for the sake of form.

Cynthia_N Apr 08, 2017

I would love to meet Lillian Boxfish! I really enjoyed her look back on her life and her attitude towards all she has been through. I know wearing fur is bad but I loved her attitude when she decided to start wearing her mink coat often!! A slow, gentle read. Well, except for that one part.

Mar 29, 2017

Not worth reading as a book; worth reading for the prose Rooney writes, some of which is quite good. Lilian is 85 years old in 1985, so she’d be 117 years old today, and yet Rooney writes the character as if she’s a 35-year-old from 2017. Events of the past provide the setting of the book, but it’s a work of time-travel, sending an ultra-modern woman of today and projecting her into the past. It doesn't work.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at DCPL

To Top