Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen

She supposed she fell in love with him at the same time the rest of Chicago did. The Great Fire had raged on for two days, and the flamesdidn't discriminate: they devoured businesses and residences, mansions and shanties alike. In the end, miles of streets and buildings were ravaged. But from this smoldering ash, a handful of men came forward to rebuild the city. Marshall Field was one of them. Opening Paragraph   

Synopsis: In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair. 

The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.… 

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation. 

But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

Review by Mirella Patzer

As Delia hurries home from having witnessed the ravages of the Great Chicago Fire, she has no idea how her life will change. It Chicago in the late 1880's. She marries Arthur Caton, a lawyer, and at first they are happy. But as the wheels of time turn, the marriage begins to reveal its problems and secrets. Despite their troubles, they befriend Marshall Field and his wife who live around the corner. And before long, neither Delia nor Marshall can deny the powerful attraction they feel for each other. Soon, they are embroiled in a passionate affair, even though Delia remains loyal to her husband. Arthur is aware of his wife's affair, and their marriage soon becomes an open one as it frees him to pursue his own unusual interests. Despite all the gossip and scandal, and being ostracized from society, Delia holds her head high and offers no compromise to her life, finally overcoming all to ultimately marry Marshall in widowhood. 

It is evident the author has done her research for this story truly came alive. Never boring, the novel tantalized me to keep reading with each turn of the page. I was engrossed in the two marriages, the love that existed between Delia and the two men, and of course, the brilliant mind and honorable intentions of tycoon Marhsall Field. I could not help but be tottally enthralled with the characters. The setting, Chicago during the gilded age added much to enrichen the story line. I love works of fiction that are based on fact, and the novel did not disappoint. 
This is an exceptional story, which exceeded my expectations. Very highly recommended.

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