Booklist Reviews 2018 September #2
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. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 May #1
Having triumphed with the New York Times best-selling Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Fowler travels back to Gilded Age New York, where well-bred but utterly broke Alva Smith marries into the nouveau riche Vanderbilt family and earns them all a place in the sun with her smash-hit costume ball.Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2018 June #1
The 1875 marriage of Alva Smith and William Vanderbilt is one of convenience. Alva needs a rich husband to save her family from poverty after her father's losses in Confederate investments, and the Vanderbilts hope the Smith lineage of generations of prominent Americans and European royals will help them join the top ranks of New York society. Alva combines wit, intelligence, and connections to move up the social ladder yet chafes at the restrictions, longs for love, and finds her greatest satisfaction in designing ever grander mansions. Her discovery of William's unfaithfulness leads to an unprecedented divorce settlement that scandalizes society but leaves her independently wealthy. While readers catch glimpses of Alva's social concerns, only the final three chapters devote time to her second marriage to Oliver Belmont, with an exploration of her work for women's rights appearing in a final author's note.
PW Reviews 2018 August #1
As accomplished as its subject, redoubtable socialite and women's suffrage crusader Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, Fowler's engrossing successor to 2013's