I picked up Story of Beautiful Girl at a closing sale for what will always be my favorite bookstore. As I shopped the Borders in Columbus Circle, NYC with a handcart full of paperbacks, my eye caught the brilliant cover of this Oprah-approved novel and I snatched it off the bookshelf.
The jacket of the hardcover is adorned with decoration that is both gorgeous and haunting. And while 'they' say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, this one served as a perfect indication of what to expect from this novel by Rachel Simon.
The story illustrates love, loss, faith, and growth through 340 pages of beautifully written prose. Simon swiftly begins the novel by taking you into the lives of Martha (The Widow), Lynnie (Beautiful Girl) and Homan (Number Forty-Two).
When Martha opens her home to Lynnie and Homan, all three of their lives are forever changed. Though no words are exchanged, love is communicated through eye glances, soft touches, and one shared kiss between Lynnie and Homan. The moments are short lived as attendants from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded capture Lynnie and take her away. Homan escapes, and Lynnie’s newly born child (a mystery conceived at the school) is left in Martha’s safe care.
The novel then takes us, dear readers, on a ride. We spend time on the run with Martha, doing her best to keep her tracks hidden and Julia (Lynnie’s child) safe. We fight to be reunited with Lynnie as Homan’s story progresses – setback after setback does not make him give up hope of coming together again with the love of his life. We struggle through speech therapy and re-integration into the world with Lynnie, all the while waiting for Homan to resume their lives together.
And through it all, each character is given a second chance at life, love, and family. Story of Beautiful Girl is a beautiful read for all seasons, but I can’t think of a better night than spending it by the fire with this book and a nice glass of wine.