Monday 11 September 2023

A Beautiful Rival by Gill Paul BLOG TOUR #ABeautifulRival @GillPaulAUTHOR @AvonBooksUK @RandomTTours #BookReview


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…

A Beautiful Rival by Gill Paul was published in paperback by 31 August 2023 by Avon. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

I do love historical fiction that is based on real life people, especially women. Gill Paul is my go-to author for this genre, her stories are always so wonderfully researched, beautifully written and so very entertaining. 

A Beautiful Rival's two leading ladies are queens of the beauty industry; Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. Two very different women who have one major thing in common; they are both determined that their beauty business will be the best, most lauded in the industry, and both of them will do anything to make sure that happens. 

Beginning in New York in 1915, during World War I, we are introduced to these two intelligent, driven women in alternating chapters. Arden was born in Canada but has been away from her homeland for many years, her early life was tough, which has impacted on her business acumen. Rubinstein comes from a large family in Poland. Like Arden, she hasn't returned to the family home for many years, and just like Arden, this makes her strong and determined business woman. 

Paul's sense of place and depiction of the culture of this era are wonderfully done. The glamour, the social standing of the customers, and also the darker undercurrents that affect the women. Arden wants nothing more than to be considered a lady, with her cut-glass accent and her beautiful homes, whilst Rubinstein has to contend with the anti-semitism that creates difficulties for business owners, and is increasing daily. 

It's difficult to warm to either of these women, with Arden's infamous temper and her constant 'bouncing' of her staff, whilst Rubinstein's idea of motherhood and her treatment of her two sons is questionable. However, both of them have their vulnerabilities, with flashes of compassion and a desperation to love and be loved, making them appear just as human as the rest of us at times. Whilst we may not love them, we are certainly intrigued by them. 

A Beautiful Rival is, for me, the perfect blend of historical fiction and fact and once again Paul has produced a novel that had me glued to the pages, not wanting it to end and constantly Googling both women as I learnt more about them. 

It's a novel of luxury and glamour, of high prices and exquisite surroundings. It is also a story of two women, well ahead of their times. Their struggles, their passions, their disappointments and their ruthlessness are all captured wonderfully, creating a story that is powerful and utterly compelling. Highly recommended. 

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.

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.

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