A deliciously queer, whimsical and sexy novel set in the art and auction world, LUSH LIVES features a cast of bold and brilliant women who are unafraid to take big risks, challenge authority and maybe, just maybe, find love along the way.
by J. Vanessa Lyon
Roxane Gay Books/Grove Atlantic, August 2023
For Glory, inheriting her Aunt Lucille’s Harlem brownstone feels like more of a curse than a blessing. She’s a restless West Coast artist struggling to find gallery representation, who doesn’t have the money or time to look after the house of an aunt she hardly knew. She reluctantly moves East, thinking of it as a free residency, but when she decides to see if any of the house’s contents have value, the inheritance leads her to Parkie de Groot, a savvy, ambitious appraiser at a luxury auction house who is on the verge of a coveted promotion if she plays her cards right. Though they are complete opposites, Glory and Parkie form an unlikely alliance and work to unearth the origins of a rare manuscript hidden in the brownstone’s trove. In doing so, they learn more than they could ever have imagined about not only Lucille’s life but the history of Harlem and how it shaped so many artists and thinkers whose footsteps Glory and Parkie hope to walk in.
Though they have an undeniable connection, there are complications. Parkie hasn’t been in a relationship since a toxic ex shattered her belief in herself, and is reluctant to make herself vulnerable with Glory, who is as ambitious as she is passionate about making her art. As intrigued as she is by Parkie, Glory is consumed by her work, not checking her phone for days on end and holding Parkie at arm’s length though she so very much wants to pull the other woman close. When these women do get out of their own way, though, the electricity between them is fierce.
That electricity is tested, however, when Glory and Parkie start keeping secrets from each other, threatening the promise of their relationship and their journey to uncover the mysteries of the brownstone and Harlem and the women who made their lives possible. Will the truths they are searching for bring Parkie and Glory back together or just drive them further apart?
LUSH LIVES is a charming and romantic novel with a sharp enough edge to make things interesting. The prose shoots off the page and into your heart and soul.
J. Vanessa Lyon is the author of The Groves (an Audible Original). She is an art historian, former appraiser, and occasional curator who teaches at a New England liberal arts college.