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Monday, June 16, 2014

A Very Good Life by Lynn Steward [Book Review, Giveaway, & Author Interview}

Contemporary Fiction
Publication.Date  March 8th 2014
Published By:  Lynn Steward Publishing
WebsiteLynn Steward

A Very Good Life Goodreads
My review copy:I received a copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. 

                                     Where to get:,%201

A Very Good Life ranked #1 for more than 26 hours on Amazon's list of Top 100 Free ebooks! Dana McGarry is an "it" girl, living a privileged New York 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?

Set in 1974, A VERY GOOD LIFE recreates a unique time in New York City when women like Dana hungered to have it all. From lunch at Cipriani’s to the annual Rockefeller Center holiday tree lighting ceremony, from meetings with business icons like Estee 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 women’s quest for self-fulfillment. A VERY GOOD LIFE is bound to become a beloved favorite of readers everywhere.

Where was her partner, her friend who shared her dreams? After almost eight years of working and planning for the life they wanted, it was all coming together, and yet at the same time it seemed to be falling apart. They'd done everything right--made all the right moves--and had usually been in agreement about the path of their lives together. But something was different in their relationship. Sometimes she felt as if she was a ghost inside her own home.
Maybe Janice was right. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted it all. And it wasn't as if a fling had been HIS idea. The affair was being forced upon him. Wasn't it up to all good husbands to protect their families and jobs by any means possible?  
She wanted more. Thus far she'd managed to ruffle Dana's feathers and engender some measure of feeling within Brett for her unorthodox view of life. She had no doubt that he still loved his wife, they all did, didn't they--but time and persistence might change that.

I'm very excited to interview Lynn Steward and gain some incite into her writing and her book "A Very Good Life" What do you do when you are not writing?

I am marketing A Very Good Life and researching and drafting Volume Two, ”April Snow.”

Do you have a day job as well?

I am residential real estate broker

When did you first start writing?

I started business writing thirty years ago, including: copy writing, editorials, corporate brochures, all forms of advertising, etc. Three years ago, I began putting ideas on paper for a TV series, and that led to creative writing, character and plot development, and endless storytelling.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

As they say write what you know, and I set the book and the series at a time and place I know very well: 1970s New York in the worlds of fashion, art, and business; industries dominated by strong and influential women.

Where do you get your ideas?

I am influenced by life-experiences, knowledge of the fashion industry and historical events of the period.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I haven’t with this series of five volumes.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Just write.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I don’t know how much Dorothea Brooke of George Eliot’s Middle march may have influenced me, but I do think of Dodo more than other female characters, and, over the years, I see her differently through my new life-experiences. The conversation is never dull or short when a group of women discuss Dodo!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

I am familiar with the events and locations mentioned in the book, but the story is not autobiographical in fact, and the characters are fictional.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment

The toughest criticism was “The story is forgettable,” and the best compliment came from a reviewer who said “The book should be required reading for any young person about to embark on a career.”

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, and don’t worry about the elements of style. That’s why we have editors; the more they edit, the better you will get.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I hope younger readers will enjoy discovering people and events of the period, and my contemporaries, who remember when, will bring their own memories to the story. While writing A Very Good Life, and developing the four subsequent books in the series, I did not have a message in mind. My thoughts were focused on Dana’s story, and the many ways a life can unravel. Each reader, through the prism of their own experiences, will evaluate her choices.

Do you have a favorite quote or quotes you could share with us?

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Favorite authors?

Eclectic few.... Jane Austen, Henry James, Edith Wharton, E.M. Forster, David McCullough, Ian McEwan, Louis Auchincloss, M.F.K. Fisher

Favorite books?

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, Middle march by George Eliot, Persuasion by Jane Austen, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Stories by Alice Munro, The Greater Journey by David McCullough,

"A Very Good Life" is a wonderfully told story of love, trust, confidence and the expectations we all carry with us. Dana looks like she has it all. She has a prestigious job in Manhattan at a dept store, a husband (Brett) on his way to being a partner in his law firm and friends and family who adore her.  Sometimes things aren't as they seem.

1974 Christmas time is when this book is set in. Such a perfect back drop for the story that unfolded. Seeing the store fronts during the holidays in Manhattan, picking out a tree, the hustle and bustle of city life. This story captures it all. The detail is written well and the author doesn't leave much to the imagination. You actually feel transported to this time and place. 

The story started out a bit slow for me. I wasn't sure when the story was going to pick up but before I knew it, it was underway. Dana works at a department store in Manhattan called B. Altman's. She is a creative director but she works under a tough woman. She has creative ideas but her boss just keeps cutting her off and ignoring her ideas. Dana just wants to help the store succeed. This was a very powerful storyline on what it was like for woman in the workforce in the 70's. It was a constant struggle to keep proving yourself. You had to be on your toes at every turn. Wait, actually that isn't much different than today, right? :)

Dana is a strong, independent and determined woman. She goes after what she wants but she is not pushy at all. She is tough but not a bitch. Dana gives everything to her career but still gives her all to her husband Brett as well. She is supportive and understanding of his goals and dreams. She doesn't come off as snooty even though it is obvious that she comes from money and is used to living a privileged life. This was such a great character. I just loved Dana McGarry and can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Beautifully written and engaging, this book was told with accurate references to people and places seen from 1970's New York City. It brought to life vivid pictures of the scenes and introduced the well liked character Dana McGarry. This is the first book in the Dana McGarry series of five books. I would definitely recommend giving this author a chance to win your heart!

About the Author

Lynn Steward is a successful business woman who spent many years in New York City’s fashion industry in marketing and merchandising, including the development of the first women’s department at a famous men’s clothing store. Through extensive research, and an intimate knowledge of the period, Steward created the characters and stories for a series of five authentic and heartwarming novels about New York in the seventies. A Very Good Life is the first in the series featuring Dana McGarry.
Connect with the author:

What you can win: 
An autographed print copy of her book
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (coffee table book)
$20 Amazon certificate


Open to:  US & International participants. Please no PO Boxes. 

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