FICTION

The Last Bathing Beauty

Lake Union. Apr. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781542007092. pap. $14.95. F
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Nathan (Left to Chance) weaves the exhilaration of first love with the pain of heartbreak. Octogenarian Boop has just lost her husband of more than 60 years. She’s looking back on the summer of 1951, when she was an 18-year-old beauty known as Betty and working at her grandparents’ resort in “the Catskills of the Midwest,” when her granddaughter Hannah arrives and reveals a dilemma. In 1951, Betty enters a local beauty contest and feels the first flutters of love with a college boy. She plans on going to college and pursuing a career. But things don’t go as planned, and Betty’s life changes in ways she could never have expected. Sixty years later, and with Hannah needing her more than ever, Boop wonders if she can find true happiness.
VERDICT Historical fiction readers will enjoy the references to long-ago vacation destinations such as the Catskills and the Poconos, along with Nathan’s clever and accurate descriptions of women’s lives in the 1950s. This novel of first loves and second chances will resonate with fans of historical fiction authors such as Beatriz Williams or Lauren Willig.

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