‘The Social Graces’ Offers Insight into New York History

“It is the only unforgivable sin in any society. Be different and be damned! —Margaret Mitchell

Historical fiction offers a glimpse into what might have happened in the past and often gives the story an exciting twist. Our final reading takes us back to New York’s Golden Age as we read the story of two women with memorable last names who clash in the social arena.

Renee Rosen’s social graces

Escape to the glitter and diamond studded glamor of New York City’s heyday in Renee Rosen’s latest novel, “The Social Graces.”

The novel tells the story of the social cold war between the reigning queen of society Caroline Astor and the newcomer Alva Vanderbilt. While both women are incredibly wealthy, society looks down on the new rich and favors those who have inherited the money instead of working for it. In an era when a woman’s only activity was socializing and obeying her spouse, Alva desperately wants Caroline’s approval, but finds herself constantly rejected by the older woman, despite her friendship with the older daughter. by Caroline.

Over time, Caroline finds that the means she protects have become more and more out of fashion and finds herself having to adapt to the new standards introduced by Alva or fall into obscurity.

As the two women clash over who will be the reigning queen of the social scene through various snubs and prom invitations, they find that they aren’t that different after all. As the two women wage their passive battle of wills, they both experience grief and loss over the course of 30 years.

Readers who can’t help but soak up the gossip will be captivated by Caroline and Alva’s maneuvers to keep them at the top of the company. “The Social Graces” may also appeal to “Bridgerton” fans, as the book deals heavily with gossip and scandal throughout the novel. Rosen’s handwriting, which offers plenty of detail about the golden fashions of yesteryear, tells an intriguing story of how two women carved out important roles for themselves that didn’t depend on their husbands.

From the cover of the book …

1876. In the glistening upper crust world of Manhattan, women are valued for their pedigree, their dowry and, most importantly, their connections. They have few rights let alone independence – what they have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor – Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt recently got married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to recognize you? Alva, who knows what it’s like to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have it all.

Spanning three decades and based on real events, this is the compelling story of two fascinating and complicated women who clash, misbehave, and find out what is really at stake.

If you like…

Readers who wish to read more novels on New York history might also be interested in Fiona Davis’ novel “The Lions of Fifth Avenue”. The novel tells the story of a woman in the early 1900s who lives in the New York Public Library and her granddaughter who also works in the library 80 years later.

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