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Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Art of Love The Romantic and Explosive Stories Behind Art's Greatest Couples by Kate Bryan

This was an interesting and enjoyable book about the often tumultuous romances of art's greatest couples. As Bryan writes, romances between artists raise lots of issues, such as how does the relationship affect the work, where do they work and the prospect of competition between them. Many of the women artists in the book suffered from 'little woman syndrome,' such as Sonia Delaunay, so it is good to see that she gives them their due.  Others had to be very strong and independent to get ahead, and to not let their relationships destroy them or destroy their art. Georgia O'Keefe, for example, would not put her art into all-women exhibitions.

My favourite couple were the Delaunays who were so in sync that they described their art as 'simultaneity'! I like the bright colours and modernist designs of Sonia Delaunay and I was pleased that she regarded her decorative work as equal to her paintings.


This is well-worth reading for anyone who likes art, and is interested in the love affairs of great artists.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Her Own Rules by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Klaus with K, edit by Thegreenj [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

I usually find Barbara Taylor Bradford's books soothing, in spite of her heroines having lots of troubles. However, this one was quite harrowing, partly because of the connection with Australia. Bradford's characters were likeable and sympathetic, however, and the descriptions of Yorkshire and Connecticut were evocative and atmospheric.

Meredith is a successful hotel owner with two lovely adult children, but her childhood and her divorce upset her.  She had a difficult childhood in Australia, and decided to live in Connecticut when she was very young. When she travels to one of her hotels in Yorkshire, she feels the urge to visit Fountains Abbey nearby, and she feels that something tragic happened to her there. Haunted by strange dreams and a strange illness, she decides to resolve the dark secrets of her past before they start to destroy her health. She is lucky enough to have the support of her new French boyfriend Luc and her friends and children.

I found this psychological story quite hard to put down, and I enjoyed the settings and reading about Meredith's business dealings which were very detailed. I am not sure if I would call it holiday reading, however.

The Art of Mindful Reading Embracing the Wisdom of Words by Ella Berthoud

Did you love reading when you were a child or a teenager? Do you find it hard to make the time to read now? This wonderful little book will help you to regain that love, and deepen your experience of reading. Ella Berthoud discusses how to discover what kind of reader you are, and provides several reading exercises to choose from.

Research has shown that reading fiction is similar to meditation, so it is actually good for you! Ella Berthoud shows readers how to make it even more 'mindful'. First, she suggests that you decide what kind of reader you are - visual, aural or kinaesthetic, so that you can use your imagination to better effect. For example, I think that I am mostly a visual reader, so I like to imagine the details of scenes in my head, rather than actually acting it out.

The exercises which Berthoud suggests include having a reading nook, so that you can settle down with a good book in your private place, learning poems off by heart, and re-reading beloved children's books. I also like her ideas about writing about a book in six words and keeping a book journal. A book treasury for favourite quotations, scenes and poems is another idea. Some of these exercises do seem like a lot of work, unfortunately, but they are worth it - I used to keep a Commonplace Book, another name for a book treasury and I remember loving it. If only I had kept it!Many famous people, including Vivien Leigh and Alec Guiness, have kept Commonplace Books.

This lovely book is well-worth buying if you want to make your reading more mindful and enjoyable.

I received this ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

EDITION  Other Format

ISBN          9781782407683

PRICE       $14.99 (USD)




Friday, June 28, 2019

Making Space, Clutter Free The Last Book on Decluttering You'll Ever Need by Tracy McCubbin


Christopher had a huge amount of correspondence from the IRS, which he was scared to open because he knew that he owed them a lot of money. He had stacks of papers in his house. He wanted to propose to the love of his life, but he had this big secret. After   helped him to organise his paperwork and advised him to see a lawyer and accountant, he found out that he didn’t owe as much as he thought. Now he is happily married!

Christopher was suffering from one of the seven emotional blocks which prevent people dealing with clutter – avoiding stuff. If he hadn’t faced it, he would probably be extremely unhappy and alone. Maybe, he would owe even more money!

This useful book will help you deal with the blocks preventing you cleaning up clutter. Tracy McCubbin also has practical advice for dealing with each room.  Unfortunately, my problem is mainly books and magazines, and she doesn’t write much about them!  I found The Toothbrush Principle better, but this is an excellent book if you need to declutter, but it really should be studied in depth to see where the dilemma lies, and what you should do.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Austentatious The Evolving World of Jane Austen Fans by Holly Luetkenhaus; Zoe Weinstein University of Iowa Press

I only read a little bit of this. It was too 'modern' for me - I really prefer more traditional studies of Jane Austen.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley

Embers of Childhood by Flora Millers Biddle

This is a haunting book about a childhood of great privilege and luxury. Flora, the granddaughter of Gertrude Whitney lived a Downton-Abbey style life surrounded by servants, partly in the Deep South and partly in the Arondiracks.  It wasn't really idyllic, however, because her parents were busy with their own artistic and somewhat Bohemian lives and left her to her own devices. She really led a rather lonely childhood, although she enjoyed hunting and fishing with her parents. She only learnt to become more assertive much later in life - bullying and loneliness left her with some scars.

Nevertheless, Flora describes her childhood and teenage years lyrically and with much affection. I was mostly interested in the Vanderbilts, I must admit, but Flora was very likeable and it is an enjoyable autobiography.

I received this free ebook from Edelweiss.plus in return for an honest review.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

This is an unforgettable  book about love, romance, heartbreak and friendship. Most of all, it is about resilience. Although it is extremely miserable at times, the luminous writing and carefully constructed story will keep you reading from the dramatic start to the end. The settings are also beautifully described - I am sure that Cremona can look forward to more visitors!

The leading character Grace has a successful life as a 'cello and violin maker with her own shop and she also enjoys her romance with the seemingly wonderful David but the problem is that David is married with children and waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Grace doesn't feel very guilty - David's wife knows that he has a girlfriend - but she is growing tired of waiting and travelling between England and France is also a strain at times. Although lonely, Grace is friendly with a troubled teenager who works for her and a dapper, elderly customer.

Haunted by the death of her parents and having to forsake her musical career, when Grace faces a crisis, she can't deal with it...

I loved this almost perfect book and I am looking forward to more books by Anstey Harris. Her website is also great, and provides a list of music that is important to the story.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

This enchanting story involves three women, all trying to begin new and meaningful lives. Sophia is a therapist, but when her abusive fiancee dies, she struggles with her conflicting feelings, and seeks answers in a new life in Cornwall, a world away from her practice in America.  Ginny, her new boss, also has to deal with a broken heart, wondering why her husband left her. Emily lived in the nineteenth century, but when Sophia finds her journal,she wonders if there is a message there for her.

This is a beautifully written and captivating novel with engaging characters, lovely heroes, wonderful descriptions of Cornwall and excellent Christian values. You can almost smell the salt from the sea and taste the Cornish food! Reading it would make anyone want to escape to Cornwall, like Sophia. It's a good place in which to rediscover hope and faith.

However, I found the modern stories better-written than Emily's tale. I also found that there were a lot of characters when I first started reading this book, and this was a bit confusing until I got used to it. I highly recommend it, and I will start looking for Lindsay Harrel's other novels.

I received this free book from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review.

All For Her The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. by Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. Ave Maria Press

Father Peyton, came from a harsh background of almost unremitting poverty in Ireland, to found the famous Family Rosary and Family Theater Productions, and mix with movie stars, such as Loretta Young and Bing Crosby.  A clever boy, he despaired about his future in Ireland, because his father died young and his mother found running the farm together with a large family impossibly difficult.  He was lucky enough to have his talents spotted, and travel to the US with his brother. There, he received a good education and decided to become a priest, but his troubles were not over. He had a terrible time with TB and it was a miracle that he recovered.

This first half of the book was interesting, although harrowing, and a bit like a rags-to-riches story. The second part about his campaigns and TV shows got rather technical, even though he met movie stars. This was disappointing. I have to admit to thinking that it would be the other way around! However, he was a very wise man, who overcame great difficulties due to his devotion to the Virgin Mary, and started a crusade to bring prayers and the Rosary back to families.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Prince Albert. The Man Who Saved The Monarchy by A.N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson does the extremely talented and multi-faceted Prince Albert justice in this long biography.  Prince Albert was a surprisingly progressive prince with liberal ideas and attitudes, who liked to be involved with politics, technology, the arts, and even helping the working classes. He was the President of The Anti-Slavery Society, and interested in getting rid of the oppressive Corn Laws. His supreme achievement, however, were the wonderful museums in Kensington and the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

When Queen Victoria came to power, the monarchy had a bad reputation due to the dissolute George IV and the Dukes and their mistresses.  Prince Albert and Queen Victoria with their stable family life and large number of children restored the reputation, and Prince Albert, once regarded as a German interloper, came to be admired and respected.

This book is an excellent study of his private and public life - it goes into the storminess of the marriage, for example. However, I found it a bit heavy-going. Also, Wilson writes that there hasn't been an extensive biography for a long time but I have another one from the 1980s.

I received this free ebook from Edelweiss. in return for an honest review.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dutch Girl Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen


I am pleased to be joining the Blog Tour for Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen. I hope that you like my review.

Audrey Hepburn was terrified. The teenage girl was returning from delivering a message to an Allied airman when she saw German soldiers coming towards her. She knew that she would not only be asked for her identity, but also what she was doing. This required fast thinking. Audrey started picking wildflowers, smiled sweetly at the soldiers, and told them that she was taking the flowers home.

This is just one of the many tales Robert Matzen  tells in this exciting, but extremely harrowing book about Audrey Hepburn’s time in the war. Although the star was quite a heroine, the war affected her so badly that she didn’t want to talk about it so she kept it mostly secret except from her sons. Also, her aristocratic mother was once a fan of Fascism and even met Hitler, misguided by her Irish husband, Audrey’s dissolute father. Her mother saw the light quite quickly, however, once the Nazis invaded Holland.

Although Audrey did manage to establish a fledgling ballet career during the war, she had a terrible time. Her beloved uncle was taken hostage and shot. She saw her older brother dragged to a Nazi camp and Jews taken away on the cattle trains. She lived in Velp near Arnhem and towards the end of the war, people were suffering from malnutrition, including Audrey herself. The war raged around them and they turned to despair when the Battle of Arnhem was lost. Audrey once said: ‘Don’t discount anything you see or hear about the Nazis’. She said that: ‘It was worse than you could ever imagine. She was once helped by UNICEF and never forgot it – this led to her becoming an ambassador for the organisation.

During this dreadful time, Audrey and her mother helped a doctor who worked for the Resistance, Audrey delivered a Resistance newspaper, and her family even hid an Allied airman! She also helped to raise funds for the Resistance.

This is a well-researched story which reads like a novel and might make people see the wonderful star in a different light. The only point that I would quibble at is that Matzen  seems to give the impression that all of the Mitford sisters were pro-Nazi. Nancy was very much for the Allied cause and Jessica became a Communist and ran away to America. 

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.




Monday, April 29, 2019

Blog Tour for The Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen on May 14


I am delighted to be joining the Blog Tour for The Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen on May 14. Audrey Hepburn was only a great actress. She was also a heroine of the Dutch Resistance!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Tragic Daughters of Charles I Mary, Elizabeth & Henrietta Anne by Sarah-Beth Watkins John Hunt Publishing Ltd Chronos Books

If the daughters of Charles 1 lived now. they could have happy marriages and successful careers because they were remarkably clever. Unfortunately, the poor girls had to endure the regicide of their father, exile from home, and unhappy lives.  Mary's marriage was relatively happy, but she was homesick for England, and Henrietta had an extremely tough time in France.

I enjoyed reading about these sisters. Sarah Beth-Watkins has written a detailed, well-research account and the letters help to bring them alive.  The relationship between Charles II and Henrietta is especially poignant.  The only problem that I have is that Charles 1 is regarded as a saint in the Anglican church because he would not agree to make England Presbyterian, and I didn't feel that she really gave the controversy about his relationship with the Covenanters of Scotland a fair hearing.

However, this book certainly made me want to read more about the period.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Quaker Quicks. What Do Quakers Believe? By Geoffrey Durham

Geoffrey Durham paints a vague, but appealing picture of the Quaker religion. I did wonder whether he is describing an extremely modern form of Quakerism, however, because I thought that Quakers were Christian and Protestant. According to Durham, you don't have to be a Christian to be a Quaker, although the Bible is very important to Quakers. It is possible to be a Hindu or Buddhist Quaker, apparently.

Durham gets rid of the misconceptions concerning Quakers, for example, that they are exclusive or that they dress in black and don't have any fun. He writes eloquently about Quaker philosophy, their belief in an Inner Light and their approach to life, the importance of meetings and their work for charity and society. Many people will have heard that Quakers are pacifists. Durham explains this.  He has Quakers from several different backgrounds describe their experiences at the end of the book.

This is an excellent introduction to Quakerism and I enjoyed reading it.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Mistress of Novels about Broken Relationships. The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope proves that she is the mistress of novels about broken relationships in this moving account of how the selfishness of adults affects their teenage children. She has sympathy for all of her characters, but her true heroes are the teenagers who are forced to reinvent their lives when one breakup causes chaos. Sophie is especially realistic and memorable.

A quiet, lonely girl, Sophie, an only child, seeks refuge with her friend Gus and his two brothers and happily married parents at their hotel, The Bee Hive. Her mother and Gus's father, Laurence have been best friends for years and have a strange relationship, although Hilary is also friendly with Gina. When Sophie's father Fergus leaves, he starts a trail of misery which Sophie finds difficult to cope with as she gradually finds that she can hardly depend on anyone and her illusions are being shattered, one by one.

I have read most of Joanna Trollope's novels, and this is the best one I have read. I found it difficult to put down. Although it was a quiet domestic story, it was extremely dramatic, and certainly kept me wondering what would happen next!

This is highly recommended.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Living Dangerously by Katie Fforde

This fairy-tale like romance by Katie Ffordewas great holiday reading, although it was wordier than most of her novels. The likeable hero and heroine, attractive settings and involved story made it enjoyable reading. It was a bit silly, but I was sorry to finish it.

Polly, the heroine, is a thirty-five year old struggling potter who works as a waitress in her Cotswold village to support her tiny business. She has had trouble with boyfriends and is much more passionate about trying to save some historic shops from demolition. However, she decides that she is in a rut after a lecture by her colleagues and wants to 'live dangerously'. An affair with a toy boy might be the answer, but is smooth-talking journalist Tristan what she needs? Why does she feel attracted by the stiff-upper-lipped and older David Locking-Hill?

SPOILER

 When Polly gets the morning-after pill from the doctor, I was a bit upset, so I was extremely pleased when she threw it down the toilet!

Katie Fforde's novels are mostly fairly light and frothy, but well-written. I have almost read them all, and they are definitely my preferred reading.


Saturday, March 02, 2019

Becoming Mrs. Lewis The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis By Patti Callahan

One reviewer called this novel the 'book that Patti Callahan was born to write'. Indeed, it is. She makes the moving love story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis come alive in this luminously written book with its evocative descriptions of New York and England and excellent characterization. The great couple almost leap from the page!

This is mainly Joy's story, though. Joy had a tough time - she felt rejected by her parents and ultimately by her husband because she could never be the perfect daughter or the perfect wife. She was searching for most of her life, experiencing 'sexual exploration and teenage narcissism' in her youth and attempting to find happiness with her husband and sons. But destiny had other plans for Joy. When she read an article by C.S. Lewis, she became fascinated with his story and soon she read everything that he had written. She started to turn toward Christianity and began writing to C.S. Lewis. Soon, the letters were flying back and forth, and Joy's life began to change irrevocably. As C.S. Lewis told her in the novel:  'God is the Storyteller and Providence is his own storyline'.

When she visits C.S. Lewis and his brother Warnie, she begins to fall in love with C.S. without realising it.  She also falls in love with London and England and the quiet peaceful life in the brother's sprawling house near Oxford, but she is unsure what the much older Lewis's feelings are. Will she have the courage to leave a disastrous marriage and take her sons with her to England, taking a chance on a bright future with the man she loves?

This is a wonderful tribute to this brilliant couple.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers Booklook Bloggers' Review Program . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The 21 A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs by Martin Mosebach

Although this was a well-written analysis of the tragic story of the Coptic martyrs, I didn't finish it. I greatly admire them and I think that the Coptic church is right to regard them as saints, but I don't think that I was interested enough in the subject to go on with the book, unfortunately.

I received this from Net Galley in return for an honest review.


Great British Family Names and Their History What's in a Name? by John Moss

This was a well-researched snapshot of the history of great British family names written in a factual way. It is especially interesting to historians and genealogists.

I received this from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Trafalgar The Untold Story of the Greatest Sea Battle in History by Nicholas Best

This is an interesting book with vivid descriptions of the actual battle with accounts from those involved.  It is well-worth reading for anyone who wants to learn more about Nelson and the battle. I especially liked the depiction of Lord Nelson. This was a moving and well-researched history.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Life Cycles-Relationships Discover Confluence. Is Your Relationship Fated? by Neil Killion

In this interesting book, Neil Killion applies his Life Cycles Theory to famous relationships, including friendships, and to careers. He also develops the concept of 'Confluence,' i.e. when couples share 'Significant Years' in common, and applies this to many relationships, such as Prince William and his beautiful wife, Catherine and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and business relationships, such as Charles and Louis Tiffany. The study of this theory can help you in your life and relationships.

The  Life Cycles Theory is a twelve-year cycle, with each twelfth year being 'A Year of Revolution,' markedd by new beginnings and achievements, through sudden upheavals. The seventh year after each Year of Revolution is also important, bringing with it a 'direction change and uphill challenge'.
On this basis, a Life Chart can be developed showing the 'Years of Revolution'and the 'Years of Broken Pathways' with their underlying themes.

This can not only be done for individuals; it also applies to relationships using their confluent years.
This is the time that they have in common during their significant years. For example, William and Kate have almost seven months of 'Confluence' for every significant year of their relationship. Killion explains how their significant years have had a huge effect on their love affair, for example, they met when they were 19, both in their 'Year of Broken Pathways'.  Their 'Confluence' has helped them develop a strong marriage, likely to last.

Studying this theory and applying it to your own life and relationships will definitely help you see how your life is developing.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Girl, Arise! A Catholic Feminist's Invitation to Live Boldly, Love Your Faith, and Change the World by Claire Swinarski

Is being a Catholic feminist an oxymoron? Many people think that it is, mainly because practising Catholic women usually don't believe in abortion. This is surprising because many early feminists were actually very anti-abortion.  Claire Swinarski discusses this, and other controversial questions in her book.  However, this is not just about divisive issues; it is an inspiring look at what it means to be a Catholic feminist in today's world.

Claire Swinarski didn't come from an especially religious home, and she was somewhat lapsed when she found herself at a low ebb and found herself in a welcoming Catholic group of women. This helped her see how women can assist each other and work together. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, and eventually decided to create a Catholic feminist podcast which led to this book.

Another reason why people don't think that the words 'Catholic' and 'feminist' go together is because of the image of the good, quiet, submissive Catholic woman, and Saint Paul's words about women. But Claire explains why his words have been misinterpreted, and she also gives examples of powerful Biblical women and women saints, such as the fierce Joan of Arc and the sweet Saint Therese, her opposite. She shows how to be a Catholic woman with 'moxie' - courage and determination. Her chapters on loving your neighbour and loving yourself are especially good.

This is well-worth reading for aspiring Catholic feminists, especially young ones.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

The Grace of Enough Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart

When Haley Stewart and her husband and children moved to a 650-square-foot apartment on a working farm with no flushing toilets in central Texas, many friends thought that they were mad. They were going a long way from friends and family, and they were leaving a house for a small apartment. Daniel was going to receive much lower pay. How would they cope?

However, life in the city was a struggle. Daniel was working long hours at a job he didn't like and didn't believe in, and Haley was working part-time while homeschooling. Daniel missed out on the children's bedtime, and Haley was considering increasing her working hours. In the end, they worked out that it was an expensive way to live, because they were eating out or getting fast food more often. Family time was declining.

Moving to the farm was the best thing they ever did.  Haley combines the story of their move and how they regained what was essential in life with suggestions for readers in an interesting way. She has many lessons to share about the importance of simple things, such as eating with the family, involvement with the community, and sharing with others. This is about how to avoid the throwaway culture no matter where you live.

It is not just a decluttering book, and I must admit to being pleased that Haley and Daniel don't like the idea of parting with books!

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.


Mother Country A Novel by Irina Reyn St. Martin's Press

This is a beautifully written and insightful glimpse into the life of an Eastern European migrant in America and class distinction in New York.  Deeply-layered, it compares many different stratas of society, including the Ukrainians and Russians in America and it also compares life in Ukraine with modern life in the USA. Irina Reyn captures all this through her heroine Nadia's eyes, showing us a different world.

Nadia has a hard life in a seedy part of Brooklyn, struggling with two jobs. She works as a nanny for ambitious Regina and cares for an annoying old man at night, so that she can eventually bring her diabetic daughter to America from war-torn Ukraine.  She doesn't have many friends, isn't happy with her life, and she has a fraught relationship with her daughter Larisska, because she left her in war-torn Ukraine. The horrors of the war came suddenly, and the emptiness and snobbishness of life in New York doesn't compare favourably with the community spirit and the old beauty of Rubizhne. But Nadia has a steel will and a strong spirit. Will these be enough to help her cope with her new life?

This is a haunting story, well-worth reading. I highly recommend it.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

I find Joshua Becker's decluttering books helpful, but not as good as the 'toothbrush' system.  However, he looks at decluttering from Christian point of view, which is a little unusual and more philosophical than most of these books.  He shows how minimalising helped him change his life and even move to a smaller house.

Becker provides tips for tidying each room, emphasizing the kitchen and dining room, the heart of the home. He also has a guide for each day, and how to continue living in a minimalist way.  His checklists at the end of the chapter are especially helpful.

The trouble with these books is that tidying up the clutter is easy to read about. It is much harder to do. This is an excellent guide, however.

I received this free ebook from Eidelweiss.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Well-Behaved Woman A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

Photographed by Jose Maria Mora - https://www.nyhistory.org/, Public Domain, Alva photographed in costume for her 1883 ball

As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it again! I love reading about the Gilded Age and Alva Vanderbilt was one of its main characters. This beautifully-written novel certainly does her justice.

The novel starts when Alva, one of several sisters, is struggling to cope with financial and social problems, and faced with an uncertain future when her beloved father dies. Her good friend, Consuelo Yznaga, introduces her to William Vanderbilt, who is seemingly the answer, although not that wealthy and not in the higher echelons of New York society. Alva impressed young William with her wit and charm, and her 'hustling' soon make her family leading lights in New York. However, this practically arranged marriage doesn't bring Alva happiness and she has to cope with many difficulties in an old-fashioned patriarchal society. Soon her daughter, the beautiful Consuelo, will have her own mighty struggles...

This captures the atmosphere of the Gilded Age, and Alva is an engaging and sympathetic character.  The novel also shows Alva and Consuelo's relationship in a very different light than usual, and this is explained at the end, and probably largely correct. However, I am not sure whether a major part of the story is true - I can't find any evidence for it, and it may have been added for dramatic effect.  It  is not beyond the realms of possibility. Also, I am not sure about the characterisation of Winthrop Rutherfurd.

This is a must-read for fans of historical novels, especially those who love the Gilded Age.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.