The USA Today Bestseller!
Named one of 2021’s Most Anticipated Historical Novels by Oprah Daily ∙ SheReads ∙ Frolic ∙ BookReporter ∙ and more...
The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor's notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.
1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan's upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.
But times are changing.
Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America's richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.
Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.
In this witty and beautifully imagined Gilded Age outing, Rosen (Park Avenue Summer) examines the rivalry between the Astors and the Vanderbilts toward the end of the 19th century. Caroline Astor finds a nemesis in Alva, the headstrong, redheaded wife of William K. Vanderbilt. The two socialites' rivalry plays out as they vie to outdo one another in lavish events, in extending or withholding invitations to balls, and in arranging the most advantageous marriages for their daughters. Rosen digs deep to reveal the humanity of these socialites as they cope with death, betrayal, and the ultimate shame: divorce. Just as the imagery of sumptuous feasts, brilliant jewels and gowns, and magnificent palatial estates begins to pall, the increasingly decadent pageantry spurs a moral awakening when Alva's sisters expose her to the struggles of average women and workers, and Caroline comes to appreciate her family and her devoted butler. The two doyennes, who despite their riches and status have few legal rights, summon the inner strength to defy stuffy convention, find happiness in love at last, and make significant societal contributions, such as funding the building of the original Metropolitan Opera and backing women's suffrage. Rosen delights with breezy dialogue and keen insights into the era. Historical fans will love this.