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A well-behaved woman : a novel of the Vanderbilts

by Fowler, Therese,

Format: Print Book 2018
Availability: Available at 36 Libraries 39 of 44 copies
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Upper St. Clair Township Library Historical Fiction HISTORICAL FOWLER Therese
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Summary

The New York Times and USA Today bestseller

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, written by Therese Anne Fowler, a New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America's great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York's old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women's suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, in A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules--and how to break them.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Being called well-behaved would not necessarily have pleased Alma Smith, yet such a demeanor was vital for her success as the wife of one of Manhattan's wealthiest and most respected men. Although born to wealth in Alabama, Alva found herself in greatly reduced circumstances when her father lost the family fortune. A fortuitous marriage was her only chance for salvation, so when her dear friend Consuelo played matchmaker, pairing her with William K. Vanderbilt, Alva followed her head instead of her heart into a loveless marriage. Throwing herself into charity work and overseeing the construction of mansions in New York and Newport, Rhode Island, Alma failed to realize that William and Consuelo were conducting an elaborately secretive affair that threatened to consign her to the outsider status she worked so hard to avoid. With you-are-there immediacy fueled by assured attention to biographical detail and deft weaving of labyrinthine intrigue, Fowler (Z, 2014) creates a thoroughly credible imagining of the challenges and emotional turmoil facing this fiercely independent woman.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "As accomplished as its subject, redoubtable socialite and women's suffrage crusader Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, Fowler's engrossing successor to 2013's Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, again showcases her genius for seeing beyond the myths of iconic women. In 1874, 21-year-old Alva Smith and her three sisters have impeccable antecedents but no money. Marrying well being the only way to keep her family secure, Alva sets her sights on railroad scion William K. Vanderbilt. Her effort pays off-William inherits $65 million in 1885-though she finds neither love nor sexual pleasure with her amiable, self-absorbed husband. Wealth offers scope for Alva's formidable leadership skills: in the same years she bears three children, wins the parvenu Vanderbilts a position in elite society, and collaborates with architect Richard Hunt on a series of influential projects. Impeccably virtuous and self-disciplined, Alva nevertheless faces frequent censure for her lack of feminine deference, particularly when, in her 40s, she refuses to ignore her husband's infidelity. Instead, she negotiates a divorce, weathers the scandal, and finds new fulfillment. The novel doesn't sentimentalize its subject's unsympathetic moments and qualities, and Fowler puts Alva in a clear context, revealing the narrow constraints of her era, class, and gender, and the fierce courage and creativity with which she negotiated them. Though the novel's lavish sweep and gorgeous details evoke a vanished world, Fowler's exploration of the way powerful women are simultaneously devalued and rewarded resonates powerfully. 100,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Belmont, Alva, -- 1853-1933 -- Fiction.
Vanderbilt family -- Fiction.
Socialites -- Fiction.
United States -- Social life and customs -- 1865-1918 -- Fiction.
Biographical fiction.
Publisher New York :2018
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 392 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 9781250095473
1250095476
Other Classic View