Last year I was part of this cover reveal and since then I have been eagerly awaiting this book! Like many many many girls, the makeup brand Estee Lauder is considered the gold standard in skin care and cosmetics. Growing up, my mother and grandmother always wore Estee Lauder make up and perfume. It was expensive for a girl who was experimenting with makeup but as I grew up, and became an adult with more of a ‘style’, it was also my go to brand.
This was the book that I didn’t know I needed. I never once considered the person behind this famous cosmetics brand until this book came across my desk for review. As soon as I saw the book, I knew it was one that I needed to read because I love a good old fashion story of hard work and perseverance. The woman who became Estee Lauder sounded like she had this amazing tale of hard work and sacrifice that was just itching to be told!
Renee Rosen is also such a phenomenal story teller and I knew that this book would feature great research as well as a well crafted story. If you haven’t read anything by Rosen, this is an excellent opportunity to read about a truly remarkable women in history and see first hand how much research Rosen has done for a book like this. A couple of years ago, I read The Social Graces by Rosen and loved it, this book lived up to my expectations and I cannot recommend this book enough!
It’s 1938, and a young woman selling face cream out of a New York City beauty parlor is determined to prove she can have it all. Her name is Estée Lauder, and she’s about to take the world by storm, in this dazzling new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces and Park Avenue Summer.
In New York City, you can disappear into the crowd. At least that’s what Gloria Downing desperately hopes as she tries to reinvent herself after a devastating family scandal. She’s ready for a total life makeover and a friend she can lean on—and into her path walks a young, idealistic woman named Estée. Their chance encounter will change Gloria’s life forever.
Estée dreams of success and becoming a household name like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Revlon. Before Gloria knows it, she is swept up in her new friend’s mission and while Estée rolls up her sleeves, Gloria begins to discover her own talents. After landing a job at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York’s finest luxury department store, Gloria finds her voice, which proves instrumental in opening doors for Estée’s insatiable ambitions.
But in a world unaccustomed to women with power, they’ll each have to pay the price that comes with daring to live life on their own terms and refusing to back down. (summary from Goodreads)
Sometimes when I get a book summary, I skim lightly and pull out things that attach my eye without understanding how they fit together. For example, in this one I pulled out “Estee Lauder” and “Estée dreams of success and becoming a household name like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Revlon” and I think that the book is basically going to just be about Estee Lauder and her rise to fame. So imagine my surprise when we meet this woman names Gloria. I was like who is she and how does this fit into the story? I loved finding out the answer to that question though. This book is about not just one woman, but two who work to take the cosmetic industry by storm. I really liked how their individual stories were told and ultimately how they came together, I thought it worked really well in this novel and I thought Rosen did a great job highlighting the struggles ‘working women’ faced during that time.
What ultimately shined in this one for me was the way that Gloria and Estee Lauder related to one another. The two women both came from money and now find themselves on the reverse side of things where they are both broke and needs jobs. Estee was a total drama queen where as Gloria was more even keel and I thought they really balanced each other out throughout the story. One can admire Estée Lauder’s ambition and drive, but sometimes ambition can be damning and that’s where Gloria came in to provide that balance and tether for Estee’s ambition. Rosen does a fantastic job with her research in this one as well. I have yet to be disappointed in Rosen’s historical research but in this one it was truly masterful. I loved learning about the cosmetics industry and a time period that wasn’t that long ago. Very well written and richly developed. If you love historical fiction you need this one on your radar.
I have to say, I think I loved this one more than The Social Graces, and that’s saying something considering I gave that one five stars! I thoughts this book gave us interesting characters that readers will connect with and cheer for. There are qualities to admire in each character and their journeys. Plus the historical detail and research is excellent and I cannot say enough good things about the writing quality! Do yourself a favor and be sure to pick up a copy of this one today! Such a treat to read and also a perfect gift for the mom in your life with Mother’s Day coming up!
Book Info and Rating
Format 432 pages, Paperback
Published April 25, 2023 by Berkley
ISBN 9780593335666 (ISBN10: 059333566X)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction