The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from The Beautiful American as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeanne will be awarding a photo/postcard collection from the 1920s (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will their reunion give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

Enjoy this exclusive excerpt:

Lee sneezed and coughed into a handkerchief. “Wretched cold,” she complained. “Had it for weeks. So what did you think of my photos?”

I came back to the moment, to the teacup in my hand, the plate of cakes with their sensual promise of cream and vanilla. Lee wanted me to praise her photos. It was easy to do.

“They were magnificent. Dozens of gray tones.” I had remembered that much about photography. A rich photograph had as much color as the real world, except all the colors were some variant of gray. In some ways, perfumes were like black and white photographs. Most people will say of a scent “That is floral” or “That is citrus” when, in fact, the perfume has dozens, perhaps a hundred, different components. Art is all subtle variation.

“You remembered our discussions. I’m flattered.” Lee preened slightly, tilting her head and smiling more broadly, still dabbing at her nose.

“And the light in the photographs,” I said. “You made natural light seem precise, even staged, like in a painting.”

“Light,” she said quietly. “That’s always the most important element, isn’t it?” The smile disappeared. She looked out the window at the wet, dismal street. “During the blackouts I thought there would never again be enough light in the world, that it could never fall with a promise of grace instead of a threat. Have you seen Pablo’s Le Charnier – The Charnel House? All black and white and gray, like Guernica. For a while the whole world seemed black and white and gray. Even the battlefields. The blood turned gray. Did you see the exhibition in Paris, Art and Resistance? How come I didn’t see you there?”

Lee’s fingers tapped nervously on the table.

About the Author:

Jeanne Mackin is the author of several novels: The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press). She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton), and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in upstate New York.


Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Penguin.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Good morning! Thank you for helping get the word out about my novel. This one is from the heart, drawing on so many things that have been important in my life – Paris, art history, stories from the Roaring Twenties all the way through to World War II…and of course romance and the invincible bonds of old friendships. How long have you been friends with your oldest friend?

  3. The bio’s interesting


  5. thank you, bn100 and Shelley. Cross your fingers for the book!

Speak Your Mind