My actual review is 3.5 stars. I have an attraction to books that are described as love letters to New York City. Although I have never lived there and have only visited once, the history and culture of the city in the twentieth century fascinates me. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a welcome edition to this particular subgenre of fiction. Lillian is witty, thoughtful and would probably be a lot of fun to talk to in real life.
It’s New Years Eve 1984 and Lillian Boxfish somewhat impulsively decides to take a walk in her adopted home of New York City. Having moved there in the 1920s, the now 85 year old was once the highest paid woman in the advertising business. She now lives a comfortable life in the Murray Hill neighborhood with her cat and has a grown son who worries about his aging mother living in the dangerous city. During her walk, Lillian has encounters with several denizens of the city and reflects on her life and its ups and downs. She remembers the building of the empire state building (which she loves), the new Penn Station (which she hates) and the Twin Towers (which she originally hated but now loves). Though she often feels left behind she has made her peace with her life and where she fits into this modern city.
Lillian herself is quick witted but not mean spirited. She seems to love engaging with strangers and finding out what they love and what makes them tick. Even when some seem hell bent on offending her, she is unflappable. Given the garbage fire that the previous year was and the current year is shaping up to be, Lillian Boxfish’s unbothered New Years walk through Manhattan was the palate cleanser my brain need right now.