Saturday, October 6, 2018

Book Review: A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler


Hi all,

If you loved the novel: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fower, then you are going to love her latest novel, too. Read more below.


A Well-Behaved Woman:

A Novel of The Vanderbilts

Therese Anne Fowler


Book Description:

The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married 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 designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her 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, in A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules—and how to break them.


Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction/Biographical

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My 5-Star Review:

I loved Therese Anne Fower’s novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald so I already knew I was going to read a fantastic story when I started reading A Well-Behaved Woman. And I wasn’t disappointed.

When Alva Smith married William Vanderbilt, in desperation for money to support her family, she did bring something important to the table—her family name and influence. Under her careful leadership, Alva raised up the name of Vanderbilt above the “old money” families and in doing so, made a place for herself in the top echelons of society. But Alva was more than just a society woman. She showed from the beginning that she could make a difference and change social beliefs and opinions, as well as help those most in need.

A Well-Behaved Woman is a powerful story of those at the top, of how women can make a difference, and how making the right choices can lead to the sweetest outcome. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of historical biographical fiction.

(I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley and have given my honest review.)



About the Author:

Therese Anne Fowler (pronounced ta-reece) is the third child and only daughter of a couple who raised their children in Milan, Illinois. An avowed tomboy as a child, Therese protested her grandmother’s determined attempts to dress her in frills, and then, to further her point, insisted on playing baseball even though Milan had a perfectly good girls’ softball league. She was one of the first girls in the U.S. to play Little League baseball.

After a too-early first marriage and a stint as the single mother of two terrific (now grown-up) sons, she went on to earn a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from North Carolina State University.  Her first novel was published in 2008.
A book’s fate is almost entirely outside its author’s control. Some are published with a lot of marketing and publicity support, but most are not. After the publication of three contemporary novels, each of which sold fewer copies than the previous one, Therese faced a hard truth: her career was in a nosedive. Her editor at the time felt she should take on a pen name and try again with the same sort of book, but Therese was not persuaded. She decided, instead, to write a biographical historical novel about Zelda Fitzgerald, Z, which was published in 2013.

Therese’s work has been translated into more than twenty foreign languages and is published around the world. Z is now available as an original dramatic series for Amazon Studios starring Christina Ricci, with Killer Films producing. (Amazon has elected not to continue with its order for a second season.)

What Therese has discovered is that she has an affinity for badass women from history whose stories have been either mistold or are largely untold. Her next novel centers on Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a determined, opinionated, compassionate, often amusing woman from America’s Gilded Age. A Well-Behaved Woman, a kind of homage to Edith Wharton with a dash of affection for Jane Austen for good measure, will be published by St. Martin’s Press on October 16, 2018. A Well-Behaved Woman is in development with Sony Pictures Television.

Therese has been a visiting professor at North Carolina State University and occasionally teaches fiction writing at conferences and workshops. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she is married to award-winning professor and author John Kessel. They reside in North Carolina.


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