08 Sep A Beautiful Rival by Gill Paul
The battle of the beauty queens turns ugly!
Warpaint on ladies! It’s time for the battle of the beauty brands as Gill Paul reimagines the life of two women who changed the face of the beauty industry by persuading women that beauty was their birthright – and providing the products that helped them achieve it.
You’d think that as women in a man’s world, they would have supported each other, but instead there was a deadly rivalry between them that spilled over into a war of more than words.
The story opens in 1915 New York, when beauty entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden is threatened by the arrival from Europe of Helena Rubenstein.
As they open new salons and launch new products in direct competition to each other, the two women’s paths rarely cross, but their rivalry intensifies over the years, with some dramatic results. Will they ever reach a rapprochement?
So many challenges
This was a wonderfully reimagined tale of two strong, creative and successful women, and the challenges in life that they had to overcome to succeed in what was still very much a man’s world. Elizabeth was a dirt-poor farmer’s daughter while Helena was disowned by her Polish-Jewish father for falling in love with a Gentile.
Their story evokes the world of the USA for several decades, taking in WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII, describing magnificently the ups and downs of rich and poor alike. There’s a real sense of time and place in the narrative as we are introduced to the society salons of the rich, the hallowed corridors of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaars, and even the horse-racing courses of Saratago – where Elizabeth Arden’s horses naturally won!
There’s also an exploration of what it meant to be Jewish at a time when not just Nazi Germany but the western world as whole were suspicious of Jewish people. Author Gill Paul handles this with great sensitivity, allowing Arden her prejudices and Rubenstein her justifiable resentment without detracting from their characters.
The two women at the centre are both great characters – not always likeable, as they have learned to be ruthless and demanding in a world still run by the patriarchy, but very empathetic in their different ways.
Live, love, loathe …
Gill Paul breathes life into Elizabeth and Helena who are so much more than the beauty brands they established. They’re flesh and blood women, who live, love and sometimes loathe, but are never, ever boring.
Beautifully researched and even more beautifully written, this story about two rival beauty Queens is another super historical read from this talented author.
A Beautiful Rival by Gill Paul is published by Avon in paperback and ebook
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 book-club favourite worldwide. This is her thirteenth novel.
She is also the author of several non-fiction books on historical subjects.
She lives in London and swims year-round in a wild pond.
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers HarperCollins for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
More Reviews of Gill Paul Books