Book Review: “The Social Graces” by Renée Rosen

Many thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of “The Social Graces” by Renée Rosen. I was given this book in exchange for my honest review.

I love historical fiction that really delves into the time period. This book was a good look into the world of the super-rich of the Gilded Age. The Astors and Vanderbilts existed in a realm where there were no limits on what they could do, only what they allowed themselves to do.

Alva Vanderbilt and Caroline Astor are a study in contrasts: a rule-follower and a rule-breaker trying to find common ground. They circled around each other for decades, each trying to be the most powerful woman in New York Society. What’s fascinating is how little they ever interacted. They were never friends or even co-conspirators. They were women who existed parallel to each other, though they could never escape the other’s influence.

Rosen doe san excellent job conveying the tedium of the social merry-go-round of the era. There were times when I, like the characters, was exhausted by the idea of another ball, another mansion, another unfulfilling marriage. Didn’t they ever want more? Or less? As it turns out they did. How they finally found peace is the best part of the story.

All in all, this is an enjoyable read.

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