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Fallen Beauty

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,354 ratings  ·  218 reviews
"Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light."

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring a
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by NAL
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,354 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Erika Robuck
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Dear Readers,

Following the breadcrumbs of dead writers through a vast and troubled forest has brought me to the gate of Steepletop, the 700 acre Berkshire estate of the Bohemian poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I've always been a fan of her evocative work, but while studying the Fitzgeralds, came to know her "personally" through two of F. Scott's Princeton friends. What I found out about her personal life was every bit as fascinating as her Pulitzer prize winning poetry.

Jennifer King
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fallen Beauty is a historical novel set in 1928 in a fictional town in Upstate New York near Steepletop, the home of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Like two of Erika’s previous novels, Fallen Beauty prods at the hearts of prominent American writers through the lives of other characters close to them.

In Fallen Beauty, Millay consigns the town seamstress, Laura, to create her reading costumes. The way Fallen Beauty not only looks at the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay through the eyes of the seamst
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
The year is 1928 and Laura Kelley wants more for her life than just working at her father's store in their sleepy little town. She and her secret lover head to the Ziegfeld Follies for a scandalous night of drinking, dancing, and having fun. If her father knew what she was really up to, he would be furious. The most exciting night of Laura's life ends up becoming one that holds a huge consequence. That very same night and not far away, Edna St. Vincent Millay is trying to finish her collection o ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit I was slightly shocked by the free and easy ways of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who historically, had both male and female lovers and a wealthy husband who enabled and supported her in all her artistic pursuits and personal idiosyncrasies. A well known poet who became famous and relatively rich from her writings, Millay went by the name "Vincent" as she chased after new experiences in order to feed her artistic muse.

I loved the historical details the book gives of the poet. Engros
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
This novel revolves around the lives of the fictional seamstress Laura Kelley and the real poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and the relationship which develops between them in an upstate New York town. I found Laura's character likable and I had sympathy for the position in which she found herself; a single mother ostracized by her community and struggling to support herself and her child. However, this is really a character which has been presented countless times before, and I did not feel that t ...more
Patricia Williams
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a great book. I've read another book by this author, Hemingway's Girl, and it was very good also. She really gets into the story of these real characters. Edna St.Vincent Millay was a very bizarre person IMO, kind of like Virginia Wolf but I really liked the woman who was the main character of the story. I did enjoy all the characters. This was a wonderful story of the time period of Edna SVM and I loved the story , loved the characters. Would recommend to anyone who enjoys literary cha ...more
Pamela Klinger-horn
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Erika Robuck is back with her best work yet. Robuck once again uses a fictional character, woven into the real life tale of the glamorous Edna St.Vincent Millay, to relay her story. These two women's lives run on a parallel course as they both deal with the price of unconventional choices in a stifling small town. Fans of THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty, and those who enjoyed Robuck's earlier works, will once again be enthralled with this enticing piece of historical fiction. ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
In Erika Robuck's tale, you will find passion, intrigue, romance, and feel a sizzling energy during a very difficult time in two women's lives. First we are introduced to Laura. She is the daughter of a dress-maker who suddenly dies and Laura must find a way to take over the business. In the mean time, her sister is planning to marry an upcoming political figure and Laura has just found out she is pregnant with her forbidden lover's child. The other woman in the story goes by many names includin ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems because they are simply worded and very direct. When I saw this book offered for selection on Amazon Vine I snatched it up quickly. All that I knew about the poet is that she was an American poetess.

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck is a painful and beautiful look at Edna’s life with historical facts with an added imagined friendship between her and a town seamstress. The invention of the seamstress, Laura Kelley, provides a way of comparing Edna’s psychologica
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, arc
When I discovered Robuck's novel was a story of Millay my curiosity was instantly piqued. I have always admired the wondrous prose of Millay as well as being acutely aware of her prickly nature and artsy lifestyle. I was unsure what direction Robuck would take, how she would portray Millay, what angle would she pursue and I will say, I was completely impressed.

I commend Robuck for selecting Edna St Vincent Millay as her center of focus. Millay is as talented as she is controversial. A trailblaz
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Original review found at
3.5 stars
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*

This book tells the story of fictional character Laura Kelley and the real life poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Each Chapter begins with Laura's story from her point of view and ends with Vincent's from hers. Although each story is separate they intertwine as the book progresses and a relationship is built.

I tho
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jazz-age
After finishing her 4th novel, I am more than sure that Erika Robuck is my favorite contemporary author. Her writing is superb. She is able to effortlessly combine style and substance. I never feel like I am bogged down with details or heavy writing; at the same time the way she describes people, events, and feelings is precise and lovely. I enjoy the mysteries that she involves (in this one as well as "Receive Me Falling"). Her characters never fail to grab me and keep my attention. They are ge ...more
Sara Hauser
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was the best book I've read in quite a while. I had not read Erika Robuck prior to this, but intend to check out her other books. I'll be checking out Call Me Zelda from the library today! I loved the story and the characters. I think her writing was spot on. She made me visualize the scene and I could really feel for each of the women. So many authors over-describe setting, clothing, etc. just to use elaborate language. Ms. Robuck was able to capture all the detail with her writing wi ...more
Dianna Rostad
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: most-loved
Fallen Beauty crackles with erotic tension and the determination of a poetess to wield sexual power over others as inspiration for writing. Robuck takes you deep into the mind of Millay, enlightening and shocking her readers in turns between sympathy and something akin to voyeurism, judgment is the only sin.

Written in dual, first-person narratives, Robuck has taken her writing to another level of sophistication, and it was an absolute pleasure to read and experience Edna St. Vincent Millay alon
Tanya C
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I rec'd this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I really enjoyed this book and found myself really feeling for the main character Laura. I felt she had to grow up way to fast due to all the circumstances in her life and she seemed to lose out on so much.

With the other main character, Vincent, boy I have to say I found myself feeling disgust, pity, sadness, and even some empathy. I was surprised after to learn that she was a real person. I find myself wanting to know more about her and
Charlotte Guzman
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I truly ended up loving this book. I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised of the lessons learned. Love, forgiveness, not judging a person until you know them. The characters were brought to life by the author and I loved them all playing their parts. This is my first book by this author and can't wait to read another. ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: signed
I like the way this author makes historical figures come alive. I had no idea who Edna St. Vincent Millay was until this story. Sounds like she was ahead of her time maybe a little disturbed. I enjoyed Laura and felt sorry for her at times. I am glad she was able to find her way to love. Well worth reading.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Having read and reviewed Erika Robuck's first two works of fiction, Hemingway's Girl and Call Me Zelda, I looked forward to reading and reviewing her newest novel, to be published in March, Fallen Beauty featuring the American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, her husband Eugen Jan Boissevain, the central character Laura Kelly - a scandalized single parent from the local village near Millay's upstate New York mountain top home Steepletop, and a cast of small town characters who add depth and dimensi ...more
Viviane Crystal
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A seductive, jaded poet presents as a liberal woman in 1928 upstate New York. Anyone who knows her wants to drink, eat, and embrace free love with her, with no reservations on a daily basis. The same group from town, who are riddled with jealousy but who secretly join her bacchanalian parties, condemn her as an immoral witch. The last group is emotionally shattered by this free love style which has sucked up spouses in a parasitic, hallucinatory embrace, the ultimate betrayal for committed coupl ...more
Karen M
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fictional creation, Laura Kelley, and a fictionalized creature, Edna St. Vincent Millay, appear in two intertwined stories, moving in and out of each other’s lives. Laura is living a life scarred by one Infamous act which has left her barely earning enough for herself and her child, an outcast in her hometown. Edna is living a life dedicated to her writing and to living a scandalous life by society’s standards in which she is supported by her devoted husband Eugen. The lives of these two women ...more
Laura Kay Bolin
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing

In order to preoccupy herself and not think of the lover who has left her, Millay focuses her attention on the local seamstress, Laura Kelley. Laura, herself is a Fallen Beauty in the town of Chatham (just outside New York). Millay fixates on Laura and Laura is in desperate need of financial help. The two unlikely woman create a unique relationship, and eventually help the other to move forward.

Millay (or Vincent as she is commonly called), is a very passi
Barbara Mitchell
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Some time ago I read Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck and loved it so much I was anxious to read this one. This is her third book featuring a famous person from the Roaring Twenties; the other was about Zelda Fitzgerald and I haven't had a chance to read that one yet.

As in the others, Robuck creates a fictional woman who becomes involved (or ensnared) in the life of a real eccentric artistic type. In this one it is Edna St. Vincent Millay who can hardly be overdone in eccentricity. Our fictional
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Erika Robuck has written several novels pairing famous authors, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and now Millay, with ordinary people. Except ordinary is hardly a word to describe them. Because these other people are very strong characters as well. While I liked Hemingway's Girl and Call Me Zelda, Fallen Beauty is by far my favorite.

I don't know much about Edna St. Vincent Millay, but this book has definitely painted a good picture of her. Millay was far ahead of her time. In today's day and age, we woul
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Fallen Beauty is the story of a lovely young woman, Laura Kelley, who pays the price for one night of passion by becoming pregnant. It’s 1928 in upstate New York and her decision to keep her child, despite the father’s unwillingness to acknowledge her, changes the course of her life. Both her parents are dead and so, at age nineteen, she is left to run their dress shop alone after her sister leaves to get married. Her talents are prodigious but not enough to sway the opinions of the local women ...more
Beth Mills
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Those who only know
Edna St Vincent Millay through her poetry may be startled by Robuck's portrayal of her as a selfish, needy, but wildly talented hedonist ( which is definitely borne out by biographical fact.) In Fallen Beauty we have the picture of a poet driven by her art, desperately seeking sensation to feed her muse and keep the poems coming. Residents of the small town near Millay's home, Steepletop, observe her unconventional lifestyle with both fascination and moral outrage. Observing a
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
5++++ stars!!!!

I received this book as an ARC and I absolutely fell in love with it!!! This is a very intriguing story that keeps you reading until the end. I was unfamiliar with Edna St. Vincent Millay before reading this book and I found her very interesting. Her and the other main character, Laura-a single seamstress with a child- are both relatable in their own ways to the reader. The story revolves around their lives and what happens once they meet. Based on historical facts of Millay's li
Christine Rebbert
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a selection for Sykesville Tuesday morning book club, and while I had not finished reading it at the time of the meeting, I wound up really liking it when I did finish. This is a story about Edna St Vincent Millay in the late 1920's and her relationship with a local dressmaker, a "fallen" woman who has had a child out of wedlock and is ostracized for it in the little town in the Berkshires (Mass.) I was a big fan of Millay's back in my 20's, and reading about her of course inspired me t ...more
Different books for different readers or as my mother says "different strokes for different folks".

I've never been a romance reader, I have a hard time suspending my disbelief and not rolling my eyes at the many contrived misunderstandings, coincidences and leaps to instant true love that the romance novels seem to invariably include. I know there are many readers who enjoy those books for the pure escapism they offer and I'm not judging them. But I'm not one of them and I know we are not going
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
The story of Fallen Beauty is told in turns from the two Main Character, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Laura Kelly, an unwed mother/seamstress. It is fiction but Edna St. Vincent Millay is the famous poet from the mid 1930. She routinely packed auditoriums for her readings. Laura Kelly was a fictional character.

It took me awhile to warm up to this story but I am glad I stuck with it. It captures the time and place and once I got use to it, the writing was exquisite! Because Laura was an unwed moth
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 21, 2015 11:09AM  
Close Reads Cafe ...: Fallen Beauty 3 16 Apr 29, 2014 11:31AM  
Great New Books: Giveaway of FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck 1 14 Feb 19, 2014 06:10AM  

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Voracious reader and history nut.

Forthcoming novel (THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, Berkley, Feb. 2021) about real-life superwoman of WWII: SOE/OSS agent, Virginia Hall.

Historical fiction, short stories, and essays include: Receive Me Falling (Elysian Fields Press, 2009), Hemingway's Girl (NAL/Penguin, 2012), Call Me Zelda (NAL/Penguin, 2013), Fallen Beauty (NAL/Penguin, 2014), Grand Central: Original Stor

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“I had withdrawn from the townspeople in as many ways as possible, thinking my isolation would be less painful if it came on my own terms.” 0 likes
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