2 New Historical Fiction from the Gilded Age
The Social Graces
By: Renee Rosen
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba
By Chanel Cleeton
A month ago, I had the opportunity to attend an online event put on by Penguin Publishing and featuring 4 of their authors who had just written books that took place in the Gilded Age. It was an engaging experience to hear from these women and to hear about their books. The main characters of their books are fascinating and look at the struggle women faced trying to find their role during these ever-changing times.
In The Social Graces, you meet Alva Vanderbilt and Caroline Astor. Caroline Astor is part of the upper crust of New York socialites and is the most celebrated and powerful of this group. Alva Vanderbilt is part of the new money, but the upper crust refuses to acknowledge her. Alva takes it upon herself to be noticed and become one of this group and do whatever it takes.
I found myself googling people and places while reading this book as I became fascinated with these people and their stories. It was slower reading for me at times, and I found it hard to identify with these women and their social problems. But it was interesting nonetheless.
3 stars out of 5
In the book, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, we are introduced to three different women- Evangelina, a woman unjustly imprisoned in Cuba; Marina, who is secretly working with the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana and Grace, who is trying to make it in the male-dominated world of Journalism, while working for William Hearst. Their storylines are woven throughout the book as we are thrown into the world of Cuba's fight for independence from the Spanish.
I enjoyed this book and again found myself looking up people and places. I enjoyed this storyline and the characters more than the other book, as I sympathized with these women and their plights. I appreciated the book's focus being on the struggles that women experience during times of strife and the fight to bring their stories to light. I was also fascinated with this piece of history that I did not know anything about.
4 stars out of 5