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.


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