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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
Contemporary fiction

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

by Kathleen Rooney

Quick take

Dream big, work hard, love deeply, and walk long: all great resolutions for 2017, and the secret behind the magic of this great novel.

Why I love it

The perfect book to start a new year of reading and of living, both captivating and inspiring, this novel opens on the last day of 1984. Lillian Boxfish is 85 years old and on her own for New Year’s Eve, not for lack of invitations but because she prefers to celebrate and reminisce by herself.

We accompany Lillian on her evening’s peregrinations on foot up, down, and all across Manhattan'“ she is a devout walker '“ and back in time, as she remembers the main events of her life. With wisdom, humor, regret, and resolve, Lillian recounts a life well-lived across many decades, from her days in advertising through becoming a bestselling poet (back when such a thing was a possibility), and on to her love life, passionate but difficult. Hard lessons have been learned, but with knowledge comes acceptance and strength in equal measure.

Now, as she takes her New Year’s walk, Lillian is unsure how she can make the most of whatever time she has left. New York City seems on the edge, with incivility and vigilante justice on the rise, and the threat of AIDS pervading communities. Lillian’s past makes a compelling narrative but her future is less certain.

Lillian’s New Year’s Eve turns out to be not the solitary celebration she’d anticipated, but one filled with both ghosts from her past and wonderfully-alive unexpected companions she meets in the present. On the cusp of a new year and suddenly forced into making connections across generational and cultural lines, Lillian discovers she’s still as vibrant and hopeful and full of potential as the city she loves so much. Neither Lillian nor New York City are ready to call it quits, and the love she gives it and its crazy inhabitants ends up coming back two-fold and more.

Based on the real life of Margaret Fishback, the highest paid female advertising copywriter of the 1930s, the story is as well-told as it is moving. Let Lillian Boxfish lead you into your own new year. Dream big, work hard, love deeply, and walk long: all great resolutions for 2017, and the secret behind the magic of this great novel.

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Member ratings (4,296)

  • Denise E.

    Archer, FL

    Ladies, if you're looking for a book that will make you laugh and bring a tear to your eye, Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk is that book! Stroll through NY in the 1920-1980 era. A journey you won't forget

  • Tishanna L.

    Rankin, PA

    I really enjoyed this book! All of Lillian’s musings and how she handles different characters she encounters shows how much of a badass she is. So amazing that this work was inspired by the true life!

  • Andrea P.

    West Lakeland, MN

    This was pure pleasure to read! I loved the leisurely pace of the book and alternating time periods to reflect Lillian’s life up to this point and here encounters on the actual walk. Love! Love! Love!

  • Chrissie W.

    Indian Trail, NC

    The premise is simple; the execution is complex. A gem of a book, Ms. Boxfish is full of true life: the good, the bad, and the messy. A wonderful example of a human, and I enjoyed getting to know her.

  • Margaret G.

    Binghamton, NY

    I've never been so enamored with a character like Lillian. Smart, witty, hysterical and deeply human. I followed her during her whole journey and learned a little about NYC and advertising on the way.