Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beauty by Frederick Dillen

Carol McLean grew up outside of Detroit, fixing up nearly beyond-repair cars, not pretty, just one of the guys.  Well into middle-age, she's chasing the dream of running her own company by shuttering companies just like the factory her blue-collar father worked for when she was growing up.  Her bosses at New York City corporate behemoth Baxter and Blume have promised her that if she pushes just one more failing company into its grave, she will finally be given a company of her own to oversee, so when Carol arrives on Elizabeth Island in Massachusetts, she's ready to take care of business and put the small town's fish factory to bed, ending her days as the "Beast" at Baxter and Blume.

Unfortunately, her bosses didn't attain power and wealth with honesty, and when they pull the rug out from under her, they bring Carol to her knees, and that's where she finds Ezekiel "Easy" Parsons.  Easy's a middle-aged fisherman trying to make ends meet off of too few fish left to catch off New England's shores, and he sees something in Carol that she doesn't ever remember seeing in herself, beauty.  With Easy's help, she realizes that maybe the seafood factory she was sent to shut down could be turned into the factory she always wanted to run, but first she has to figure out whether the factory can be saved and at what cost.

Beauty surprised me.  After the first few chapters, I wasn't sure if I would continue with it.  Carol starts out as a cold, uncompromising character, shuttering factories with little regard for their employees.  She seems to have turned her back on her blue collar roots in favor of personal gain. This is not to mention all the corporate jargon that comes with the territory which verges on begin totally overwhelming to lay readers struggling through the opening chapters.

Then a wonderful thing happens.  Carol gets fired, meets Easy, and begins to transform.  Instead of coldly shuttering factory doors, she's seeing promise in the remaining women who work the factory floor at the Elizabeth Island plant.  Instead of seeing the "Beast," Easy sees a beauty.  Suddenly, in Dillen's capable hands, a women who forgot how to love and how to hope is fighting for a small town and its livelihood.  She's discovering new love that she never expected, and she's using all the lessons she's learned working for the "the man" to return to her blue collar roots and rejuvenate a factory and a community that is finally seeing her for who she is and who she can be.

By the closing chapters of the book, I was rooting for Carol to beat all the challenges thrown at her and make her adopted factory work, and in so doing, save the man and the community who would call her their own.  Beauty is an inspirational story about a woman who sees beauty in broken down cars and obsolete factories, a community that is more than the sum of its parts, and a man who would risk his heart for a stranger. 

P.S. I won't spoil it for you, but if I could, I'd quote the last sentence of the book here because I thought it was just right.

(Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publicist, but, never fear, my review is as honest as if I'd bought it myself.)


  1. This appeals to me because it sounds true to life.

  2. This sounds like a great book. I like it when characters grow and come into their own as a book progresses, and Carol seems like she's overcome a lot, including her former self. Thank you for such an insightful review, Megan.

  3. This is on my TBR list - Ii really like the sound of it.

  4. This sounds like a hell of a good book! It's going on my tbr list!