Thursday 7 September 2023

BLOG TOUR: A Beautiful Rival - Gill Paul

The world is at war, but on the gilded streets of Fifth Avenue, New York, a battle of a different kind is brewing…

New York, 1915.
Elizabeth Arden has been New York’s golden girl since her beauty salon opened its famous red door five years prior. Against all odds, she’s built an empire.

Enter Helena Rubinstein: ruthless, revolutionary – and the rival Elizabeth didn’t bargain for.

With both women determined to succeed – no matter the personal cost – a battle of beauty is born. And as the stakes increase, so do the methods: poaching employees, planting spies, copying products, hiring ex-husbands.

But as each woman climbs higher, so too does what she stands to lose.

Because the greater the height, the harder the fall…

What did I think?

I would not be surprised to learn that Gill Paul has invented a time machine and an invisibility cloak and she can travel back in time to observe any historical figure she wishes to write about.  There is definitely some magic between the pages of A Beautiful Rival as I felt as if I was in early 20th century New York with Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein 

I knew nothing about Elizabeth Arden or Helena Rubenstein, apart from their brand names, before reading A Beautiful Rival.  Now I feel like I know both of them inside out, not just their physical characters but their whole character including their thoughts and feelings.  It's actually quite impressive to think that these two very different, but also very similar, ladies succeeded in what was very much a man's world.

The rivalry between them is as dramatic and bitchy as a soap opera, as each woman vies to be the premier cosmetic brand in America.  Fifth Avenue is pretty long, I'm sure there would have been room for both of them!  As with any feud, it often gets nasty and Helena Rubenstein is the victim of anti-Semitism, which unfortunately wasn't unusual during that time.  Give her her due though, she's not the one who changed her name.

A Beautiful Rival is historical fiction at its finest and five stars are nowhere near enough for this wonderful book.  Gill Paul continues to amaze me with her writing prowess and her inimitable skill of bringing historical figures to life.  I will be recommending this book for a very long time - make sure you don't miss it.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:
Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in the twentieth century and often writing about the lives of real women. Her novels have topped bestseller lists in the US and Canada as well as the UK and have been translated into twenty languages. The Secret Wife has sold over half a million copies and is a bookclub favourite worldwide.

She is also the author of several non-fiction books on historical subjects.

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