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Review: A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
October 25, 2018

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Therese Anne Fowler’s 2013 bestselling novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was an astonishing piece of literature. Fowler’s descriptions of 1940s Savannah, Georgia were absolutely delicious. I even enjoyed the Amazon adaptation (RIP).

Because of Z, I was very excited for Fowler’s 2018 follow-up, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts.

My knowledge of Gilded Age America is, admittedly, a little lacking so I did quite a bit of Googling while listening to this audiobook. Just like Z, Fowler’s in-depth research has paid off in the form of a rich and vibrant novel that was very enjoyable to read. While Fowler’s last novel was based in the glittering world of the 1920s, the rich lifestyles found in A Well-Behaved Woman aren’t built on a castle of sand. Instead, the lead character of Alva Vanderbilt goes from being well-connected but poor to rich and then to very rich. We’re talking hard-to-comprehend rich.

Alva Vanderbilt

The one disappointment of this novel is probably my own fault because of my heightened expectations. Alva’s story covers nearly her entire life so there was a lot less time for lush setting descriptions in this novel compared to Z. Although Fowler does a commendable job of bringing the glitz and glam to every party and social event in the book (and there are lots), I could’ve used a few more setting and style details. However, I do realize doing so would have added to the book’s page count considerably.

This book is chockablock with familiar names fashioned into lively characters, many of them frustrating and flawed. A Well-Behaved Woman is a comfortable step into the prickly world of Gilded Age wealth, privilege, and the evolving world of the late 19th century.

RATING: 4/5 stars


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Jillianne Hamilton is the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle and the Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire trilogy. Learn more.

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jillianne hamilton

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Jillianne has done a fabulous job creating a loveable and down-to-earth heroine in Molly Miranda and followed through with a really strong plotline packed full of twists and turns.
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Hamilton handles the story with a deft touch, balancing action, laugh-out-loud zingers and romance with zippy pacing and a character you can really root for.
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I thought the author's sense of humor was so funny! I found myself giggling out loud.
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