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Authors: Jeanne Mackin

The Beautiful American

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PRAISE FOR
THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN


The Beautiful American
will transport you to expat Paris and from there take you on a journey through the complexities of a friendship as it is inflected through the various lenses of nostalgia, pity, celebrity, jealousy, and—ultimately—love. Jeanne Mackin breathes new life into such luminaries as Man Ray, Picasso, and, of course, the titular character, Lee Miller, while at the same time offering up a wonderfully human and sympathetic protagonist in Nora Tours.”
—Suzanne Rindell, author of
The Other Typist
“Jeanne Mackin’s portrait of Europe in the years encompassing the Second World War is achingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing, and her vividly drawn characters, the legendary Lee Miller among them, come heartbreakingly alive in their obsessions, tragedies, and triumphs.
The Beautiful American
is sure to appeal to fans of Paula McLain’s
The Paris Wife
and Erika Robuck’s
Call Me Zelda
, or indeed to anyone with a taste for impeccably researched and beautifully written historical fiction.”
—Jennifer Robson, author of
Somewhere in France
“From Poughkeepsie to Paris, from the razzmatazz of the twenties to the turmoil of World War Two and the perfume factories of Grasse, Mackin draws you into the world of expatriate artists and photographers and tells a story of love, betrayal, survival, and friendship. As complex as the fragrances Mackin writes about,
The Beautiful American
is an engaging and unforgettable novel. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Renée Rosen, author of
Doll Face
“An exquisitely imagined and beautifully rendered story of the talented, tragic, gorgeous Lee Miller.”
—Becky E. Conekin, author of
Lee Miller in Fashion
“Jeanne Mackin blends a tale as intoxicating as the finest fragrance. Spanning wars both personal and global,
The Beautiful American
leaves its essence of love, loss, regret, and hope long after the novel concludes.”
—Erika Robuck, author of
Call Me Zelda
and
Fallen Beauty
“Jeanne Mackin’s luminous novel about Man Ray and his model-mistress, Lee Miller, evokes the iridescence of 1920s Paris when youth and artistic freedom and sexual excess were all that mattered.
The Beautiful American
, which readers will rank right up there with
The Paris Wife
, takes readers from the giddiness of the flapper era to the grittiness of World War II. It is a brilliant, beautifully written literary masterpiece. I love this book!”
—Sandra Dallas,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Fallen Women

PRAISE FOR THE OTHER NOVELS OF JEANNE MACKIN

“I read this novel in two sittings, eager to learn how the lives and love stories turned out. . . . Before I realized it, I was swept up in Maggie and Helen’s intersecting worlds. . . . One of the book’s many charms is how wisely it reveals the values and passions of two women from very different eras who, nonetheless, have everything in common.”
—Diane Ackerman, author of
The Zookeeper’s Wife
“[Mackin’s] narrator, while asserting that she is no ‘hagiographer of spurious mystics,’ is an engaging woman, solid in her station, widely conversant with the deeper reaches of the paranormal, and magically involved with her quest. Here she leads the mind in a chase as she finds herself tempted to believe in the return of departed spirits, in a prose that is as amiable to read as the palm of a hand. A haunting book in every way. Masterly and fervent.”
—Paul West, author of
The Secret Lives of Words
“Jeanne Mackin has written a multilayered, multigenerational story of a spirited encounter with the spirit world.”
—Nicholas Delbanco, author of
What Remains
“A sensitive, affectionate, and appealing portrait of [Maggie Fox], the uneducated girl who at fourteen escaped rural poverty and a drunken abusive father to become America’s first and most famous Spiritualist medium.”
—Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of
Foreign Affairs
“Plenty of romance and intrigue, vital characters and exquisite details of both period and place ensure a vigorous and satisfying read.”

Publishers Weekly
“The author of
The Frenchwoman
again imaginatively samples French history and here constructs a witty, lightly satirical, entertaining amalgam of murder, greed, and revenge . . . a richly intelligent and charming spellbinder.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Rich in detail, from descriptions of food and attire to historical personages, this first novel is well written and entirely believable. Mackin is positioned to join the ranks of popular historical novelists.”

Library Journal

Other Novels by Jeanne Mackin

The Sweet By and By

Dreams of Empire

The Queen’s War

The Frenchwoman

New American Library

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Jeanne Mackin, 2014

Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

Mackin, Jeanne.

The beautiful american/Jeanne Mackin.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-101-63562-9

1. Female friendship—Fiction. 2. Missing children—Fiction. 3. Americans—France—Fiction. 4. Aliens—Europe—Fiction. 5. World War, 1939–1945—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3563.A3169B43 2014

813'.54—dc23 2013049784

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1
Contents

Praise

Other Novels by Jeanne Mackin

Title page

Copyright page

Dedications

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

PROLOGUE: DÉPART

 

PART ONE: NOTE DE TÊTE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

 

PART TWO: NOTE DE COEUR

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

 

PART THREE: BASE NOTES

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWo

EPILOGUE: SILLAGE

 

Readers Guide

For my husband, Steve Poleskie, as always

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Many thanks to the friends and colleagues who helped get this story to the page: fellow writer Nancy Holzner for her gentle but prodding encouragement—our conversations were my life raft; Ellen Edwards for her gracious and perceptive editorial guidance, and the others at New American Library: cover designer Anthony Ramondo; Courtney Landi, Craig Burke and Jodi Rosoff in marketing; editorial assistant Elizabeth Bistrow; publisher Kara Welsh and editorial director Claire Zion. Thanks to literary representative Kevan Lyon, and friends Alison Lurie, Diane Ackerman, Charlotte Greenspan and Natasha Tall who gave support, insight and the occasional French verb. Very special thanks to Tom Newton and Mary Kay Clapp, who helped me through this book and the ones that came before. Their friendship and encouragement are a great blessing. Thanks to Barbara Adams, the intrepid and extraordinarily patient traveling companion who accompanied me to Grasse and Nice. Finally, I owe a debt to artist Mary Frey, who, years ago when we were young and living happily in Boston attics, patiently encouraged me to look, really look, at photographs.

PROLOGUE

DÉPART

The very first hint of fragrance, experienced when the perfume bottle is first opened, before the fragrance is in direct contact with the skin, the nose, and the heart. Similar, really, to a book opened but not yet read . . . or, perhaps, a door opened to a visitor not yet visible, one who lurks in shadow. The
départ
begins the journey of the perfume and its wearer.

—From the notebooks of N. Tours

I
n the ornate doorway of Harrods’ perfume hall people rushed past me as I stood, frozen.

A radio played somewhere, Churchill’s voice rising over the crowd, commending the English again for surviving the storm-beaten voyage. The war was over; we were picking up the pieces and carefully, slowly putting our lives back together. But my daughter was lost, in her own way another war casualty. The grief struck me
anew and I was immobile in a doorway, unable to go forward or backward, unmoored by grief.

BOOK: The Beautiful American
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