Although Lynn Steward's debut novel, A Very Good Life, takes place in 1970s New York City, the emotional story transcends any period. Dana McGarry is an "it" girl, living a privileged lifestyle of a well-heeled junior executive at B. Altman, a high end department store. With a storybook husband and a fairytale life, change comes swiftly and unexpectedly. Cracks begin to appear in the perfect facade. Challenged at work by unethical demands, and the growing awareness that her relationship with her distant husband is strained, Dana must deal with the unwanted changes in her life. Can she find her place in the new world where women can have a voice, or will she allow herself to be manipulated into doing things that go against her growing self-confidence?
A Very Good Life chronicles the perils and rewards of Dana's journey, alongside some of the most legendary women of the twentieth century. From parties at Café des Artistes to the annual Rockefeller Center holiday tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estée Lauder to cocktail receptions with celebrity guests like legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Steward's intimate knowledge of the period creates the perfect backdrop for this riveting story about a woman's quest for self-fulfillment.
|Publisher:||Lynn Steward Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.66(d)|
|Age Range:||1 - 17 Years|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As I’m always on the lookout for a new series to lose myself in, I thought I’d give the Dana McGarry stories a try. Like me, Dana McGarry is a 20-something, happily married career woman in the early 1970s. She has a challenging job in one of the most exclusive department stores in New York City and she is very good at what she does. Dana has been married for eight years to Brett McGarry, a rising star in his law firm who is about to be offered a partnership. The life that Dana and Brett have laid out for themselves seems to be going according to plan. Dana dreams that with partnership on the horizon for her husband she may soon have that country house and the children she dreams of. But we all know that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Dana realizes that her life is poised for a major change but she mistakenly takes it to be a good change. She is offered proof that her husband, who has grown more distant over the past three years, is engaged in an affair. Should she stay in her marriage or go? Is it just a passing thing or an omen of what the future holds? I loved this book! It has a timeless quality about it as it deals with the betrayal of a spouse and the aftermath of emotional upheaval. I also was thrilled that while there was extra-marital sex involved there were no cheap, tawdry, or sensational scenes. Sometimes the imagination is more creative than what is written. The character of Dana McGarry is endearing. I found myself cheering for her throughout the book – whether in a work-related scene or one with her friends and spouse. Brett McGarry tries to be likeable but in spite of himself just proves to the reader what a slime ball he is. Secondary characters populate the rest of the book but none overwhelm the McGarrys. That is just what a secondary character should do – be present without drawing too much attention away from the main characters. A Very Good Life by Lynn Steward is an easy read, a real page turner. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Dana next and stayed up later than I should have a couple of times. A terrific book to take when traveling or to read by the pool this summer. I’m so happy to have discovered Lynn Steward’s books and look forward to reading the next in the series.
Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite A Very Good Life by Lynn Steward chronicles a tumultuous period in twenty-nine-year-old Dana McGarry’s life that begins the day after Thanksgiving, in November, 1974. Dana’s a bright and well-liked public relations junior executive at B. Altman, a high-end department store in Manhattan. She’s been married for the past eight years to Brett McGarry, an ambitious corporate litigator with a venerable Wall Street firm, who is on a fast track to partnership. Dana and Brett have a lovely apartment on Park Avenue and, by all accounts, have a wonderful marriage and a very good life. However, things aren’t exactly as they seem. Dana is facing stiff opposition from some of her superiors at work regarding a teen makeup section she’s keen on establishing, and things at home with her and Brett are becoming more and more distant as her husband appears to have a single-minded focus on his work and his commitment to becoming partner. The author, Lynn Steward, has an effective way with words and is able to create evocative images without a superfluous use of adjectives. This is especially evident in the first chapter of the book where the author creates a setting that is worthy of a Currier and Ives picture postcard. The department store window decked out for Christmas with sugar plum fairies, the falling snow that gently settles on the sidewalks, the hustle and bustle as everyone rushes by with parcels in hand, the air of excitement; all of this is practically tangible and this visceral awareness is a constant throughout the book, making it a feast for the reader’s senses. The early seventies of the last century was a particularly revolutionary time for women and this is nicely captured by Steward in the subtle nuances throughout A Very Good Life. Dana is the product of a stable, loving family, and who is moving away from the ‘norm’ of the stay-at-home wife by trying to balance both a career and her marriage. Janice, her husband’s colleague at work, is a free-spirited feminist who’s not only ballsy and a talented litigator, but thinks nothing of having a casual affair in order to satisfy her own needs. Dana’s gay bestie, Andrew, her radical bra-burning co-worker, and references to some legendary women icons of the day like Estee Lauder and Diana Vreeland all serve to highlight the era. However, if one were to remove the well-heeled trappings of Dana’s upper class existence, there would remain a young woman who’s on a journey of discovery – a relevant issue for women of any era. A Very Good Life is a very good read and a slice of Americana all rolled into one.
A Very Good Life is the first book in an exciting new series by successful business woman now author Lynn Steward. In this story, which crosses over from the literary to women’s fiction to romance, Steward takes us to 1970s Manhattan, home of the sophisticated and the elite. There, we meet Dana McGarry. Dana has everything — a successful job at a prestigious department store, a handsome lawyer husband, a beautiful home, and loving family and friends. But things aren’t always as perfect as they appear to be, aren’t they? When Dana’s husband begins to drift away, and demands at her job require that she behaves unethically, her world begins to crumble. She finds herself at a crossroads. Will she make the right decisions and stay true to herself and her vision of what a ‘good life’ should be? This was a wonderful read! It reminded me of novels I read years ago by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Female readers will no doubt empathize with Dana as she struggles to keep her career and marriage together. She is strong, but also caring and sensitive. Readers will also be swept away by the setting. With vivid detail, the author brings Christmas in 1970s New York City alive in all its splendor. I really felt transported in time and place, felt the snowflakes and smelled the holiday trees. The characters are sympathetic and interesting and, of course, the antagonist is just one of those persons the reader will love to hate. Steward has created a wonderful world of drama in this new series. Book two is supposed to come later this year and I’m really looking forward to reading the new installment. If you love women’s fiction and are a fan of strong female protagonists, I recommend you pick this one up. It won’t disappoint.