Lillian Boxfish, the central character in a new book by Kathleen Rooney, is an original. She was born in 1899, but tells people that 1900 was her birth date. Why you ask? 1899 was in another century, and Lillian is definitely not an nineteenth century kind of woman.
Lillian left her hometown, Washington D.C., and moved to New York City in the twenties. By the 1930s, she is employed by R.H.Macy’s in the advertising department. Eventually, she becomes the highest paid woman in that field.
We learn about Lillian’s past and present in alternating chapters. In the present, it is New Year’s Eve, 1984. Lillian will do what she has been doing every New Year’s Eve for a very long time. She will walk from her apartment in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan to Grimaldi’s Restaurant on Madison Ave.
On this night, however, Lillian’s walk will take her to so many other places as well. At each stop, Delmonico’s Restaurant, St. Vincent’s Hospital, a bodega in Jackson Square, and others, she will meet strangers and engage them in very personal conversations. She thoroughly enjoys meeting these people, including the three young men who try to rob her. She learns from them and they, in turn, learn about this strong, independent woman.
Eventually after a walk of 10.4 miles, Lillianis back at her apartment. During the walk, we will learn about Lillian’s marriage, her son, her breakdown, and all the important events and people in her life.
Author Rooney takes the reader on a physical and emotional journey with a character who faces life head on. Even at age 85, or 86 depending on how you count, Lillian loves life and looks forward to each adventure.