If you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ll know that I’m not thrilled with the number of books being released every week about World War II. There’s also the issue of mystery novels with too many dead women. It’s becoming easier to say what you will no longer read than what you want to read. So, imagine my delight when I was offered a copy of Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum, a book about the women, and man, who helped to create and revolutionize the beauty industry.
There are four main characters in the book: Josephine Herz, Constance Gardiner, CeeCee Lopez and Mickey Heron. Josephine and Constance are the heads of their own companies, and both have changed the way women approached makeup. CeeCee works her way up into creating a new hair relaxer for African – American women, and Mickey gets into cosmetics by seeing, through his girlfriend CeeCee, how much money there is in the industry.
If you’ve followed the theater world you may know that the book is based on the famous rivalry of Helena Rubinstein (Josephine) and Elizabeth Arden (Constance). CeeCee is based on Madame C. J. Walker and Max Factor’s mysterious business partner is Mickey. The story is interesting and steeped in the time. As I read the book I began wanting to spend more time in the world that Josephine created: salons, art filled homes, and a knack for leading a beautiful life. Anyone reading the book will chose which rival they’ll root for, it’s difficult not to.
The book is a wonderful read, but there were a few issues I had: Josephine speaks with an European accent and the w sound is often split between a w and a v sound. Vhat instead of what. My grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch and used v sounds instead of w sounds, that should have been kept consistent through the book. Another issue I had with the book were the sex scenes between Constance and her girl friends. They didn’t always seem realistic. “Here let me help you with that bra,” and then Constance is having her breasts cupped by what had been just a friend. It’s possible that this could happen, but I simply found it too abrupt.
If you’re interested in reading about the birth of the cosmetic industry Rouge will be released on 25 June, 2019. It’s a perfect book for a trip.
Enjoy your book. Until next time.