- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (November 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451466713
- ISBN-13: 978-0451466716
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age Paperback – November 4, 2014
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“Rosen skillfully charms, fascinates, frustrates, and moves her readers in this turn of the century tale. Set on an epic historical stage, What the Lady Wants contains all of the hedonism, decadence, success, and tragedy of the great American novel."— Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Fallen Beauty
“What the Lady Wants is a story that opens with the Great Chicago Fire and keeps on smoldering to the end. Rosen's characters are finely-drawn, and her love triangles are full of subtlety and sincerity. What the lady indeed wants may not be what you assume it to be!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist
“What the Lady Wants is an absolutely brilliant novel. The love story of Marshall and Delia is completely engrossing. You get to experience their first meeting, their friendship, their love story, and their highs and lows full of romance, passion, loss, and sadness. […] Rosen has clearly done her research as Chicago during the Gilded Age comes alive with the various people, places, and things.”—The Examiner
“Set against the backdrop of the great Chicago fire, the rebuilding and resurgence of the city, and the ensuing excesses of the Gilded Age, this historical novel has all the requisite features of an irresistible page-turner.”—Booklist
“What the Lady Wants is superb historical fiction… It has everything within it, fashion, mystery, crime, labor disputes, social refinement and snobbery, family support and opposition, tragedy and stunning success. A MUST read and guaranteed to be a best seller… Exquisitely written!”—The Best Reviews
About the Author
Renée Rosen is the author of Dollface and the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
The only thing I found worth considering is the fact that antibiotics weren't discovered until 1928. People died of all sorts of infections that can be treated now (although drug resistance is a scary thought).
The novel begins with the Great Chicago Fire, and how Delia meets Marshall for the first time, and from there we follow the two and their paths - both separate and together - until Marshall's death. It is, of course, a love story, but one filled with quite a few hardships. To begin with, Marshall Field was married to Nannie Douglas Scott, and two of their children reached adulthood. Dalia Spencer was married to Arthur Caton. After the deaths of Arthur and Nannie, Marshall married Dalia - his "long-time friend," as the papers called them, despite the rumors about an affair between them, which certainly caused a scandal in their day.
On the side of commerce, the Chicago Fire wasn't the only disaster that befell both the city and Field's business. These included another major fire, a financial panic that lead to a depression and the rise of the labor unions, which Field opposed. Put these two together, with a heavy dose of conjecture, and that's just the perfect recipe for a rip-roaring historical fiction romance novel, which is exactly what Rosen gives us.
With all that information available, Rosen needed to make sure she didn't include too much history and not enough fiction. Thankfully, Rosen shows she knows her stuff, carefully treading that fine line like a professional tightrope walker. That means that Rosen had to put the love affair at the very heart of this story, and then weave everything else around that, even at the expense of some facts going astray. As necessary as this focus is, there was one small section where I think she got a touch carried away with the romance part, which I feel could have been left out of the final version. That said, I did like her idea about how she solved the problem of Nellie Field being suspiciously absent, while Marshall, Delia and Arthur were constantly seen together hobnobbing around Chicago's high society.
Rosen achieves all of this with a very simple prose style, which has enough touches of formal language to give us a feel for the era, without sounding archaic. Furthermore, she builds Delia's character with precision so that we cannot help but empathize with her. This also helps us believe how both Arthur and Marshall would fall in love with her. Despite how Rosen shows Marshall's harsher side, in his relationship with Delia he is both charming and endearing, which of course, is exactly why Nellie loved him as well. This leaves Nellie to be the prime antagonist in the story, and Rosen has her play that part with all her might.
All told, this book is simply a joy to read from beginning to end. Rosen's style is engaging and era appropriate with elements that made this almost into a page-turner mystery novel. The only small problem was the part of the story that bordered on being too romantic for my taste, but otherwise this novel is hard to fault. Despite my already knowing many of the facts behind this story, I found some non-fictional things that I didn't know anything about, together with some very enjoyable fictional additions. For all of this, I can warmly recommend this novel with four and a half out of five stars.
(* To this day, I refuse to walk into a Macy's because when they took over Marshall Field's & Co., they refused to leave the original name on the State Street building, even as "Marshall Field's at Macy's.")
The book kept my interest because it was well researched, had a lot of Chicago history. It's a story of determination, drive, and just plain hard work by Marshall Field to build his famous department store and shape Chicago as we know it today.
I’m so thrilled to have found Renee Rosen, and am eager to read more from her.
Please read more of my reviews on my blog: http://fastpageturner.wordpress.com
or follow me on twitter at @dana_heyde