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Gramercy Park [Kindle Edition]

Paula Cohen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

New York City, 1894. To Gramercy Park, bordered by elegant town houses, cloistered behind its high iron fence, comes Mario Alfieri, the world's greatest tenor. Poised for his premier at the Metropolitan Opera, the summit of society, the handsome Alfieri needs a refuge from the clamor of New York's elite . . . and from the eager women who rule it. He finds it, he thinks, at Gramercy Park, in the elegant mansion of the recently deceased Henry Ogden Slade. The house is available . . . but not quite empty. Clara Adler, Slade's former ward, lives there still, friendless and alone. Who is this bewitching orphan? Why did Slade take her into his home, only to leave her penniless at his death? And what tragedies and terrors have left Clara little more than a pale and frightened ghost, haunting the deserted mansion? Mystified, then enchanted, Alfieri is soon involved in an intrigue that spans two decades and pits him against a vicious enemy who swears to destroy both him and the woman he loves . . . and whose weapon is a scandal that has already come close to killing Clara Adler.

Editorial Reviews Review

Opera enthusiast and self-described worshipper of all things Victorian, first-time novelist Paula Cohen merges her two obsessions in Gramercy Park, a ripping good yarn set in Manhattan in 1894 that contains as many corsets as it does arias. When an elderly businessman and philanthropist dies, he leaves behind a Gramercy Park mansion and a beautiful but sickly ward named Clara. Enter the swarthy Italian tenor Mario Alfieri, who has recently arrived for his debut on the American opera scene, and whose velvet voice belies his womanizing swagger. Mario falls in love with Clara, whom he marries hastily as protection against Thaddeus Chadwick, the nefarious lawyer who covets his dead client's millions and his appealing ward--but not necessarily in that order. With plenty of standing ovations and fainting spells, vengeful threats and sexual deviancies, this is the sort of fiction that weaves a passionate tapestry of a tale and, in doing so, a reverent approximation of an era. Cohen concocts the repressed and proper past with plenty of titillation for a modern audience. In doing so, it's hard for the reader to decide which time period the book really belongs to, only you have to keep reading to see if the tenor sings a final, happy song. --Emily Russin

From Publishers Weekly

Smart, tender, witty and titillatingly libidinous, Cohen's debut fiction is a credit to the genre of the historical novel. Set in 1894 in the eponymous Manhattan enclave at a time when Mrs. Astor ruled New York society, the novel boasts vivid characters, both sublime and nasty, and a sly and absorbing plot embroidered with period details. Mario Alfieri, the great tenor recently arrived in America for his Metropolitan Opera debut, meets "the little Jewess," 19-year-old Clara Adler, recently bereft of the rich guardian in whose home she has been mysteriously cloistered for years, and deprived of his $30-million estate. Instantly smitten with the haunted, emotionally damaged Clara, Mario dedicates himself to her well-being and never wavers in his ardor. A strength of the plot is that Clara may doubt his loyalty, but the reader never does; there are no phony tensions here. Threat lies outside their made-in-heaven marriage: Mario and Clara have implacable enemies, the Dickensian duo of Thaddeus Chadwick and Lucy Pratt, vicious connivers with knowledge of secrets in Clara's past who would rather die than see the newlyweds happy. Cohen manages to convey the wrenching beauty of Mario's voice, in part by pitching the novel as Puccini might have. Clara doesn't sing, but she is the essence of soprano; Chadwick is the pompous baritone and Lucy Pratt the sluttish alto. While somewhat operatic in formula, the narrative succeeds as suspenseful drama. Agent, Meredith Bernstein.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 532 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5S20
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,470 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DAZZLER OF A DEBUT March 26, 2002
Paula Cohen's debut is a dazzler which, in all probability, will hook readers with the opening paragraph. A devotee of opera and all things Victorian, she adroitly plays these notes in this intriguing tale of love, suspense, and Gothic terror.
The existence of Clara Adler in turn-of-the-century New York City has long puzzled the affluent. A young Jewess, she is the ward of a wealthy older man who, apparently, is not related to her. Who is she and from whence did she come? Even more mystifying is the fact that she is left penniless when the millionaire dies.
Arriving in New York amidst the clamor surrounding his Metropolitan Opera debut is Mario Alfieri, the world's finest tenor. He meets Clara while looking for a house to rent in Gramercy Park, and is immediately drawn to the enigmatic, wounded young woman. He is soon determined to rescue her from whatever demons may haunt her, and the two are wed.
Happiness is short lived as their marriage and future is threatened by two fearful, uncompromising enemies who are aware of a scandal that may destroy Mario's career as well as the woman to whom he is devoted.
There's a bit of Dickens in this plot, a modicum of history, and many unexpected twists before a satisfying denouement.
- Gail Cooke
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich description, wonderful characters, great writing! August 17, 2002
With the gift of words that seem to come straight from the 1890s, Paula Cohen has fashioned a unique love story. When Mario Alfieri, a world-renowned Italian tenor comes to New York to continue his successes at the Metropolitan opera, he falls in love with 19-year old Clara Adler, the sickly and penniless ward of a recently deceased millionaire. There's a mystery about the details of Clara's past, and an evil lawyer, Thaddeus Chadwick, who has his own reasons to do Clara harm. Mario and Clara wed, but as the layers of secrecy gradually unfold, the reader cannot help but be drawn into this tale of love, revenge and murder.
The story rings true on every level, even the most minor characters sketched so deeply that they not only live and breath, they live and breath in the 19th century -- these are not just modern characters in period garb. However, some scenes that drive the plot stretch the boundaries of the delicate nature of literature of that time, and will titillate even the most modern reader. As the characters develop, so does the story and there are enough twists and turns of the plot to keep the reader alert and intrigued until the very last page.
In the book's acknowledgments, the author gives thanks to her writing group, which she describes as still going strong and still an inspiration. I am proud to be part of that group and have listened to Paula's voice reading parts of the manuscript aloud for several years. I shared her joy when St. Martin's Press bought it and continue to be delighted to hear of the recent publication of British and Italian editions. And, even though I'm familiar with the book, I just read it through from cover to cover and was totally impressed by her command of language, the humanity of the characters and the pacing of the story. It alls fit together in a tapestry of words and was a deeply satisfying reading experience. Highly recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written historical and psychological thriller February 25, 2002
This is an enveloping and well written historical and psychological thriller, full of atmosphere and suspense. From the first pages of "Gramercy Park" what immediately comes to mind is Edith Wharton and Henry James with vivid descriptions of places and persons, and full of irony. Set in 1894, in New York, it is a classic story of hypocrisy and rigid class rules among Mrs. Astor's high society set. Upsetting the social structure is the intrusion of a famous Italian opera star, Mario Alfieri, who is making his U.S. debut. He both titillates and disrupts the status quo by not observing their rules, and especially by marrying a strange social outcast, a young woman and a Jewess by the name of Clara Adler, the former ward of the recently deceased philanthropist, Henry Slade. Clara is by all accounts less than extraordinary, of questionable mental and physical health, and with a mysterious and perhaps sullied background. It also turns out that Henry Slade has surprisingly disinherited her. Taking advantage of Clara is an evil nemesis, lawyer Thaddeus Chadwick, and his sidekick, Lucy Pratt, both enraged by Clara's good fortune in marrying Alfieri, and determined to destroy them both. As the story evolves, the happy couple's lives become more and more of a nightmare, while Chadwick and Lucy plot their harm. Although the reader will smell a rat early on, the story's secrets are uncovered slowly and tantalizingly, and keep the reader turning the pages.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Victorian, and very juicy February 7, 2002
GRAMERCY PARK is a wonderfully, even deliciously, melodramatic tale, which plays out in Manhattan in 1894. This is a true Victorian tale, not a modern plot dressed up in long-waisted gowns and high-button shoes. All the twists and twirls of the plot, all the responses of the well-realized characters to those twists, all of the attitudes displayed are truly Victorian. There is no window-dressing (actually, there is some window undressing, but that's a separate story) - this chronicle could only happen to genuine inhabitants of the Victorian Era. If Dickens had been a woman, he would have written books like Gramercy Park.
This book will take you back to the period, and never jar you loose with a false thought or word. So fully does Paula evoke the era that you may have the same experience that I did: emerging from some hours in Gramercy Park, I was confused for a moment by what I saw around me. The images in my mind from the book had become the reality and the trappings of modern life felt for a moment completely wrong.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Pedophilia is repugnant
The writing was fine, but the premise of the book was sadistic and disgusting. Too bad Cohen did not have a better storyline.
Published 10 months ago by Carlos
2.0 out of 5 stars Dark dickensian plot
I liked the first part of the book and wondered about the mystery in Claras past but when it was revealed I felt unclean and couldnt bring myself to finish this book
Published 15 months ago by Ltrvixen
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written...
One of those books you wish you could forget, so that you could read it again... so well written... the characters are so real, the timeframe so vibrant and real... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Deeperdarker
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Bravo to Paula Cohen for her beautifully written historical novel that kept me turning the pages until the end. Read more
Published 23 months ago by textbook buyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing!
Garmercy Park was a real page turner. There were twists and turns everywhere and it was hard to put the book down once you started reading.
Published on April 26, 2013 by karina costantino
5.0 out of 5 stars A Luxurious Read
Gramercy Park took me by surprise in several ways. The language was exquisite - rich, deep, like reading velvet. Read more
Published on February 23, 2013 by Pete Gerhard
5.0 out of 5 stars Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park is without a doubt one of the best books I have read lately. I was captivated by the story and the many twists and turns and surprises throughout. The evil Mr. Read more
Published on October 9, 2012 by Glory
3.0 out of 5 stars predictable but good read
Plot was way too predictable but the writing was very good. Loved the prologue and epilogue.....they were the whole point of the book, in my opinion.
Published on October 3, 2011 by Dais
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
Page turner and very entertaining quick read. Bravo! Obviously, not as good as the great classics of the era but a very entertaining "new" book to quench the thirst for more... Read more
Published on January 2, 2011 by Book Club Member
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gem of a Book!
The author brings late Victorian era New York City to vivid life. I hadn't heard or seen anything on this book when I originally picked this up years ago and didn't know what to... Read more
Published on July 19, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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