All the Beautiful Girls: A Novel

All the Beautiful Girls: A Novel

by Elizabeth J. Church


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“An exquisitely crafted novel of love discovered and friendship found.”—Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls

Ruby’s life glitters with success, but she still must conquer her tragic past and discover what love really looks like.

Lily Decker never meant to become a showgirl. As a young girl in small-town Kansas, she danced to forget the pain of losing her family in a car accident. And dancing made her feel beautiful when the attentions of her Uncle Miles only brought shame. In 1967, Lily is grown and ready to leave her past behind. She changes her name to Ruby Wilde and heads to the Rat Pack’s Las Vegas to make a name for herself as a troupe dancer. However, the competition is fierce and she finds work as a showgirl, instead, doing fan-kicks in sky-high headdresses and sparkling costumes. Her new life brims with glamour and excitement, but something is still missing. Is it love? What choices will she make to feel whole again, and at what cost?

With her uncanny understanding of the hidden lives of women, Elizabeth J. Church captures the iconic extravagance of an era and the bravery of a woman who blazes her own path to freedom.

Praise for All the Beautiful Girls

“[Elizabeth] Church’s lively coming-of-age tale transports us to a world of ostrich-plumed headdresses and pinky-ringed mobsters while tracing a tumultuous quest for acceptance and love.”People

“A gorgeously written novel with the bite of a gin martini, All the Beautiful Girls goes beyond the splashy, gaudy dazzle of Las Vegas in the sixties to reveal the beating heart beneath the glamorous façade of a showgirl with big ambitions.”—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of At the Water’s Edge

“A stirring bildungsroman that follows a girl from trauma in 1957 Kansas to self-discovery in 1960s Las Vegas . . . Church paints an unflinching, frequently heartbreaking portrait of a resilient young woman’s coming-of-age set against an exciting, glamorous backdrop.”Publishers Weekly

“Church’s appreciation of language is apparent as she masterfully creates pictures with words . . . All the Beautiful Girls provides a delightful antidote to cold and dark mid-winter days.”—Associated Press

“A beautifully rendered tale of personal redemption filled with friendship, loss, extravagant furs, and feathery headdresses.”—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399181085
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 288,482
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth J. Church is the author of The Atomic Weight of Love. All the Beautiful Girls is her second novel. Ms. Church lives in northern New Mexico.

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Excerpted from "All the Beautiful Girls"
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Copyright © 2019 Elizabeth J. Church.
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All the Beautiful Girls: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and the author Elizabeth Church for giving me an ARC in exchange for my candid opinion. I really enjoyed this book and found it a compelling read. It is a combination of a period piece (early 1960's in Las Vegas) and a story of overcoming a troubled childhood. I found the stories of Las Vegas in the early days to be fascinating and eye opening. The story was told from the perspective of a girl who longs to dance and ends up as a showgirl in Las Vegas. Her story and that of her friends and relationships were real and well done ---I would love to have her friends as my friends. The story of her childhood and growing up was sad and impacted the balance of her life. It is a story about how we all relive our childhoods and learn to outlive them. I would highly recommend this book---it would be a great one for a Book Club selection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an authentic story line! I really enjoy books like this that have something out of the ordinary for readers to experience. In this story we journey into the life of showgirls, high rolling gamblers and the fast paced life on the Las Vegas strip. There is a dysfunctional family, loss, and love all wrapped together to bring us into the life of Lily/Ruby Wilde. Lily/Ruby is a strong, lovable character and she had me in her corner from the first page. The story begins when she is around 8 years old and looses her parents. She then goes to live with her dysfunctional aunt and uncle who end up causing her emotional damage that takes her many years to put behind her. She has a strong supportive character throughout the story, enters the Aviator. When Lily arrives in Las Vegas hoping for a dancing career, she ends up auditioning to become a show girl and her career takes off. She befriends several interesting characters, that add lots of detail to the story. As a showgirl she is very successful and financially comfortable. She ends up experiencing some pitfalls along the way as she struggles with old emotional baggage. You just have to get your hands on a copy of this book and see what happens. It's a great read. Get ready and enjoy the ride. Loved it! I will definitely be researching Elizabeth Church after finishing All the Beautiful Girls. I enjoyed her writing style immensely and am looking forward to reading her first book.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book, I thought it was more historical fiction, like Ruby Wilde was real. Especially what with all the name dropping, the mention of timely events and what Ruby was doing during them and all the Vegas hotspots. It took a while into it before I realized it was just "true fiction". That word "just" in no way is meant to take away from this story. I followed Ruby's (Lily's) journey through her highs and lows and had a great time! Well, I still want to kick that Spaniard's A double S though. What an A$$hole!! I think I just seethed up again at the mention of him. Grrr! This was true entertainment that had me mesmerized. Thanks to Random House Ballantine and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
All the Beautiful Girls is a historical fiction story about a young woman who escapes her horrific childhood to become a dancer in Las Vegas during the 1960s. Lily’s parents and sister were killed in a car accident when she was 6 years-old, and she is taken in by her aunt and uncle. Her aunt is cold, and her uncle is abusive, but she finds an unlikely benefactor in the man who was driving the vehicle that killed her family. He pays for her dance lessons and sends her many books. Lily re-invents herself as Ruby Wilde when she gets to Vegas, and she quickly realizes that her dream of being a dancer won’t happen. A few new friends and an honest scout convince her that the real money comes from being a show girl. Thus begins a grand adventure. This book was quite entertaining. Ruby is a strong woman who uses her talents to build a better life for herself. There are some tragedies though, but I have to say I was satisfied by the ending of this novel. The content is a little racy at times, so be prepared.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Lilly’s family is killed in a car crash when she is just a small child. She is then raised by her aunt and uncle. It is a loveless home plus, she is abused by her uncle. However, through an anonymous benefactor, Lilly is allowed to take dance lessons. This becomes her lifeline and her saving grace. She uses her talent to escape her childhood and create and amazing life as Vegas showgirl. When I started this book I almost put it down within the first chapter. I had just finished Before We Were Yours. I did not think I could handle any more child abuse. I am glad I didn’t stop…this is an amazing and fascinating read not to be missed. I don’t think I have ever loved a more flawed character as I have Lilly or Ruby….she changes her name when she runs away to Las Vegas. She has resilience and astounding toughness. She makes some tragic mistakes but still manages to get her act together and come out on top! I enjoyed learning the behind the scenes actions of a showgirl. There is a lot more to it besides the dancing and the costumes. The high-rollers, the partying, the philandering all make up a life I did not know existed. And all the money! Geez! Lilly conquers some tragedies which most people could never overcome. She does this with a style and a strength which are above and beyond! I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.
UpAllNightBB More than 1 year ago
Can you ever really overcome the loss of your innocence? That is the question posed from reading All the Beautiful Girlsby Elizabeth J. Church. When Lily Decker was in the third grade, she lost both of her parents and her sister to a tragic car crash where she was the lone survivor. She goes on to live with her aunt, her mother’s sister, and uncle. However, this is not a house of safety, love and happiness, and she doesn't remain an innocent child for long. She lives in this house until she is able to finally graduate from high school and move to Vegas to dance. Now a dancer at the Tropicana, life is a flash of glitter and lights and all of the attention that she never got as a child. As Ruby Wilde, she has to learn to live her life, but things don’t go quite the way that she planned. This book was very hard to read initially. Not because there is anything wrong with the book, but Lily experiences living with her aunt and uncle was just so heartbreaking. This young girl had already been through enough, why add more to her grief. I just rooted for Lily through the whole book. There are times in the book where you wish you could just be her friend or in her life to provide guidance. She really could have used it. This was a great book to read with the information and history of Vegas and the shows. Five Stars **Review by Nikki, Late Night Reviewer for Up All Night with Books**
Kaits_Bookshelf More than 1 year ago
I was drawn right into Lily’s story. The early chapters are a bit depressing to read but I still couldn’t put the book down. Lily suffers a lot as a child, after losing her entire family and being taken in by a distant aunt and cruel uncle (not a spoiler – this is how the book opens). While sad at times, Lily’s story is truly one of survival. She endures a lonely childhood yet learns to love and express herself through dance classes. It is her love of dancing that ultimately lands her a long way from the Midwest in Las Vegas. Once in Vegas, Lily decides a fresh start is in order and leaves the name Lily behind. What follows is quite an adventure for Ruby Wilde. When I wasn’t reading this book, I found myself thinking about it. I was anxious to keep reading Ruby’s story. I wanted to know what happens to her and found myself both rooting for her and wanting to slap some sense into her all at once. I think this would be a great book to pick up for a long plane ride or a day by the beach or pool because once you start reading her story, you won’t want to stop until you know how it all turns out. The characters, as unlikeable as some were, were beautifully human. They were flawed and filled with emotion. The themes of learning to be independent as well as learning to rely on and trust others were both evident in this book. All in all, I found Lily to be one hell of a woman – strong yet vulnerable, intelligent yet perfectly capable of making stupid choices. I cheered for her the whole book. I highly recommend this read! Read full review at:
Barb-TRC More than 1 year ago
All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church is a standalone novel. I did not know what to expect when I decided to read this book, and I was totally surprised at how much I enjoyed it. All the Beautiful Girls was a different type of read for me, but I am glad I read it. Lily Decker is our heroine, and we meet her at the age of 8 years old. Her parents and sister were killed in a car crash, and Lily was sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle. Her life changed drastically, as her Aunt was very strict and not very loving. Her Uncle was a nightmare for Lily, as he sexually abused her. Lily would look for a friendship with ‘the Aviator’, a man who survived the accident that killed her family. Though he felt responsible, Lily knew it was an accident, and soon he would become a friend who would make her life bearable. The Aviator would send her books, as Lilly loved to read, and also paid for her to go to dancing school. When she reached 18, Lily leaves her home in Kansas, to find a job dancing in Las Vegas. When she arrives in Vegas, Lily changes her name to Ruby Wilde, and loves the bright lights of 1960’s Vegas and showgirls galore. Not knowing where to go, Ruby will luck out meeting the father of a girl who is a showgirl, and soon Ruby will find two friends (Rose & Vivid) who will teach her the ropes. Life as a showgirl in Vegas, turns Ruby into a successful entertainer, with all the costumes (noted in description above: costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels, and sky-high headdresses). She learns to become strong, independent and know how to handle men, without being sexual. Ruby’s success, enables her to make a lot of money, and her friendship with Rose and Vivid becomes a bond between the girls. This part of the story we very well done, as we got to see life on the stage, and all the stars of those days; Sammy Davis, Tom Jones, and others. I really enjoyed all the glitz and glamour. Despite her happiness and contentment, Ruby still has a sense of loneliness, and when she meets someone she feels is true blue, Ruby’s life will change, as things will unexpectedly turn for the worse. Though her friends are still there for her, it is the Aviator (who she continued to keep in touch with) who will be there for Ruby again. Lily Decker will move to New Mexico, as she recovers from the sad end of her Vegas career. Lily will finally find peace, especially as the Aviator (Stirling) and Jack are both gay lovers, and she learns to love both of them as family. Finally, Lily has people who love her for who she is. Stirling and Jack were totally awesome, and I also loved the time she spent living with them. Lily will heal over time, and explore her love of designing, which will eventually lead her into a sweet happy life. All the Beautiful Girls was a very good book, with some excellent characters, both good and bad. It is a story of loss, survival, healing, tragedy, innocence, forgiveness and love. This was also a fun story, with some intense and sad moments. I loved Lily/Ruby and throughout the book, I found myself rooting hard for her. Elizabeth J. Church has written a story that was so very well done. I wholly suggest you read All The Beautiful Girls. It is a gem.