Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Julie's Review: What The Lady Wants

Author: Renee Rosen
Series: None
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: NAL
Pages: 448
Obtained: from a friend
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Captivating
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: 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.  

Review: What the Lady Wants A Novel of the Gilded Age is a fantastic journey into the past, the history of Chicago and the evolution of Marshall Field's. I LOVED the history in this novel. Being a native of the area, I enjoyed closing my eyes and picturing the Loop back in the late nineteenth-century. How electric it must  have been to help establish a city that no one thought would add value to the trade routes. Little did some people know that it would help establish some of the greatest railways and icons in the country.

Marshall Field was quite the visionary. He knew that women, specifically rich & sometimes bored women were the key to a successful business, even if his partner did not.  Its obvious that the partner goes bye-bye but it's not until later in the book do we know why. Frankly, it was a long time coming. Mr. Leiter is more suited to a small dry good store, not a grand shopping experience.

While I found parts of Marshall and Delia's romance intriguing, it really wasn't what kept me coming back and turning the pages. It was how Chicago grew into the Second City that had me turning the pages. I think Delia was a formidable woman for her time period but I do think her affair with Marshall, made her less powerful in society than she could have been. She could have made a real difference if she didn't let her affair cloud people's opinion of her.

It is clear that Ms. Rosen did a ton of research for this novel and I'm grateful for that. I love it when I can Google something I find interesting and see that an author got that detail correct. I think that's important when you are mixing fact with fiction.

I did admire the way that Delia took care of her family as they struggled during certain points in their lives. It made her a good sister, wife and aunt. I felt the recognition that she receives by family at the end of the novel was a long time coming for her.

If you are a history buff and specifically love the history of Chicago, then you should definitely pick up What the Lady Wants A Novel of the Gilded Age. If you are looking for a dynamic romance, then you might just want to focus on the history that lays at your feet with this one.

 I look forward to reading Renee Rosen's other novels as well.



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