In honor of Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday yesterday, Kimberly Denny-Ryder has generously shared her review of this new novel inspired by Wharton’sThe House of Mirth.
The Gilded Age of America is one of my favorite time periods to read about. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up near NYC and also made frequent trips to the mansions in Newport, RI owned by the billionaires of that era. The amount of wealth that was thrown around in those days is truly astounding. To see the ostentatious nature of some of the landmarks of that era are mesmerizing: houses with elaborate ballrooms, private tea gardens, marble EVERYTHING, etc. etc. – you get the idea. When Lev Raphael approached me about reviewing Rosedale in Love, a historical fiction novel taking place in the Gilded Age, you can imagine my immediate acceptance!
The time is 1905, and America is booming. Considered the first real decade of consumerism and materialism, Americans were spending their hard-earned money in droves. At the center of this madness in New York City is Simon Rosedale, a Jewish financial wizard who has big plans to break into the elite upper-class society that controls everything there is to control in the city. However, not having any beneficial family ties, and feeling slightly outcast due to his faith, Rosedale sets his aim on marriage as his way in to this exclusive club. Enter Lily Bart, a down-on-her-luck member of this aristocratic society who has recently been fodder for the tabloids. Rosedale sees a way in via Ms. Bart. She’s hurt enough socially that she just might take the plunge with Rosedale. But would she really marry someone like Rosedale? Would this make the gossip go away, or would it intensify even further? Add into this mix Florence , Simon’s cousin who is secretly head over heels in love with Simon and you have one hell of a love triangle.
The biggest compliment I can give this novel is that Raphael’s writing style makes you feel as though you’re reading a classic literature novel. Raphael’s cast of characters are crisply written with exquisite vocabulary that made me enthralled with the world and people he had created. Not all of his characters are original creations though! If the name Lily Bart sounds familiar to you, it’s because she is the main character from Edith Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth. Rosedale in Love is a fantastic companion piece to The House of Mirth both in style and story.