Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age by Renee Rosen

In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair. 

The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.

But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

My thoughts...an absolutely fascinating novel! The novel is a mix or real and imagined details and characters. The novel follows the adult life of Delia Spencer.  I found Delia to be a compelling protagonist. Her life, though very cushioned, faced a number of difficulties. She was graceful when so many others were cruel. She was very much a lady. Rosen cleverly weaved a story which allowed the reader to understand why Delia strayed from her husband, Author.

The numerous characters throughout the novel were just as compelling as Delia. Each character added depth and interest to the story. I was just as interested in the outcome of their stories, as I was in Delia's story. Rosen's writing is absorbing. I was able to feel the heat of the Great Fire and to see the changing landscape of Chicago.

The story was solid, well written and compelling. Though the novel spans thirty-five years of Delia's life, it never drags on. I felt completely carried away by the story. One of my favorite novels this year. I am highly recommending you cuddle up this November with a copy of WHAT THE LADY WANTS by Renee Rosen.

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