Raised from babydom into doubt, I’m as feminine as Rousseau. I, Hazel Brown, eldest daughter of a disappearing class, penniless neophyte stunned by the glamour of literature, tradeless, clueless, yet with considerable moral stamina and luck, left my family at seventeen to seek a way to live. It was the month of June in 1979. I was looking for Beauty: I didn’t exactly care about art, I simply wanted not to be bored and to experience grace. So I thought I would write.
One morning, Hazel Brown wakes in a badly decorated hotel room to find that she’s written the complete works of Charles Baudelaire. In her bemusement the hotel becomes every cheap room she ever stayed in during her youthful perambulations in 1980s Paris. This is the legend of a she-dandy’s life.
Woven into the reminiscences of Hazel’s early life are episodes from Baudelaire’s youth, as well as reflections on the history of tailoring, the passion of reading and 19th century painting. Lisa Robertson’s debut novel is an exploration of life lived in pursuit of beauty, and a celebration of the mind of a girl.