'A glittering depiction of a woman ahead of her time who absolutely refused to be second best' Red

Alva Smith, her Southern family destitute after the Civil War, marries into one of America's great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York's old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designs and builds nine mansions, hosts grand balls, and arranges for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defies convention for women of the time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women's suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted with desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman.

'A very lively read' Independent

'A pacy, elegant novel' Mail on Sunday

'Wholly absorbing' Stylist

'Like Gossip Girl minus more than a century' The Skimm

'Enthralling' Good Housekeeping



'Brilliant. Read it, read it, read it' Daily Mail

'Superb' Independent on Sunday

'Utterly compulsive reading' Stylist

'A treat' Sunday Times



ISBN: 9781473632516
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Publication Date: 24 Jan 2019
Publisher: John Murray Press
Publication City, Country: United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 23.4(H) x 16.4(L) x 3.2(W)
Weight (gm): 524



A very lively read - Independent

A pacy, elegant novel, powered by a heroine who parlays her pluck into real clout. - Mail on Sunday

Fascinating . . . a glittering depiction of a woman ahead of her time who absolutely refused to be second best - Red

A fascinating tale of liberation and self-sufficiency that conjures up the work of Edith Wharton . . . a wholly absorbing tale that transports the reader to the Gilded Age of the 1800s. It's the perfect Sunday afternoon-in-bed read. - Stylist

Therese Anne Fowler's portrait of this feisty, forward-thinking woman is enthralling - Good Housekeeping

Sure to enthral - Harper's Bazaar

This novel is a treat. Fowler's attention to period detail is both mesmerising and delicately drawn and the cast of recognisable characters such as the Astors, the Mandevilles and those from the British aristocracy are intriguing. The novel offers an unsentimental, thought provoking and nuanced examination of an extraordinary life during a time where women were grossly undervalued and oppressed. Alva demanded and achieved more, altering the course of women's lives in unprecedented ways. Fowler has articulated her narrative in an utterly fascinating account of gender politics that still bears a deep resonance today. Alva's story has been resurrected and made newly unforgettable. - Irish Times

A very lively read . . . with Alva's social manoeuvring depicted in all its glory, along with her willingness to defy social convention as an advocate of African American rights, a divorcee and, later, a prominent campaigner for women's suffrage. - Irish News


Author Biography

Therese Anne Fowler was born in Illinois and is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where she earned a BA in sociology and an MFA in creative writing. She taught undergraduate fiction writing and was editorial assistant for the literary magazine Obsidian III before leaving to write fiction full-time.



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