New York City.
In the Gilded Age, society is everything and Caroline Astor is the queen of it. Then, Alva Smith marries into the Vanderbilts — an up and coming family labeled new money. Alva is determined to be a part of Society. Caroline Astor is determined to keep her out of it. Alva wants to tear down Society rules and traditions while Caroline wants them untouched. The decades long feud and battle between the two Society women and their families begin. That’s where the new historical fiction, The Social Graces by Renee Rosen, comes in.
While this novel has plenty of opulence and glamour that usually drives me to Gilded Age historical fiction, it also gave a complex and complicated look at the socialites of the era. During the Gilded Age, women were still subservient to men. They could not vote and they did not work. They did not have many of the rights American women enjoy today. So, they had to do the best that they could. This book is based on not only true people, but also true events so the reader gets taken on a coming of age journey on how these New York Society women grew into their voices and made mark on history. Most notably, Alva Vanderbilt used her platform and became one of the leading influences in the women’s suffrage movement later in her life. Renee Rosen does a great job in humanizing these women through all the headlines, scandals, and allure. This novel left me pondering how much more of a social and economic impact these two formidable women would have had if they were alive today instead of the Gilded Age.
Do Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt find a way to get along and find common ground? Or will they be forever rivals? This glittering and juicy historical fiction is a generational saga that explores mother and daughter relationships, tradition and norms, women’s roles in society and history, and plenty of drama and intrigue that will keep you turning the page as Rosen spills the tea on the Four Hundred.
If Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl took place in the Gilded Age, The Social Graces by Renee Rosen would be it.
Grab your copy of The Social Graces here.
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