From the author of The Future Homemakers of America comes the hilarious and moving story of one unstoppable woman's unforgettable ride through an ever-changing century..
What hope is there for Poppy Minkel? She has kinky hair, big ears, skin that's too sallow, and an appetite for fun. Poppy's mother, Dora, despairs of ever finding her a husband, despite the lure of the family fortune offered by Minkel's Mighty Fine Mustard.
Correctness, duty, and Dora Minkel Ear Correcting Bandages are the weapons in this husband hunt-and they serve as torture to a girl who has her own hazy ideas about beauty, love, and marriage. After the sudden death of her father, Poppy's rebelliousness bursts into full bloom. From one World War to the next, from New York to Paris, she'll invent her own extraordinary life with never a moment of self-doubt...as acclaimed author Laurie Graham treats us to a rollicking, exhilarating celebration of passion over prudence.
Graham's humorous fictional autobiography of Poppy Minkel, the tart-tongued heiress ("Jewish, to just the right degree") of Minkel's Mighty Fine Mustard, is a Zelig-like romp through the 20th century. Poppy's irrepressible voice recreates her world with a disarming bluntness that often abandons propriety for a good laugh ("education is a greatly overrated thing") while never sidestepping the essential truths of any well-lived life (e.g., "No one can be expected to look at difficult art without a glass in one's hand"). Graham's enjoyable The Future Homemakers of America toasted the delights of long-term friendship between women and exhibited the author's flair for nostalgic historical fiction. Her new novel views history through Poppy's wide, self-obsessed eyes, painting a lyrically linear portrait of a flawed, believable character who never abandons her quest to be a "heroine." Poppy's "memoir" begins with her grief over losing her father on the Titanic, barrels along at a great pace through WWI, the 1920s, the 1930s, WWII, the 1960s and ends with a sanguine widow's observations in the late 1970s. Poppy's evolution through heiress/shop girl, fashion "originator"/wife, aviatrix/seductress, mother/art gallery owner/widow proceeds at a dizzying clip. Married first to a rake she meets while selling ties at Macy's, Poppy divorces him after their first child is born and takes up with a Brit distantly related to the Royals. Their affair results in a surprise pregnancy and leads to a second, happier marriage. Poppy weathers many losses, but her friendship with her stepbrother Murray most beloved of her family members teaches her a great lesson: "In life you have to look ahead and not behind."